Dr Mohit Bhatia is an MBBS and M.S. in Surgery. He is Senior Clinical Fellow at King’s College London. Dr. Bhatia is currently in the frontline of the battle against Covid-19. In this interview, Devadeep Chowdhury discusses pertinent questions that we face during this time.
Q: What happens during self-imposed home quarantine by a suspected patient?
A: Here are some steps to follow:
- All family members should wash hands regularly and maintain basic hygiene. They should thoroughly clean their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter the body and make you sick.
- Limit the movement of the quarantined person in the house and minimize shared space. Ensure that shared spaces (for example, kitchen, bathroom) are well ventilated.
- Limit the number of caregivers. Ideally, assign one person who is in good health and has no underlying chronic or immuno-compromising conditions.
- Avoid direct contact with body fluids, particularly oral or respiratory secretions, and stool. Use disposable gloves and a mask when providing care.
- Drink enough fluids.
- Seek medical advice and follow instructions as advised by the government.
Q: Can one take an anti-Covid-19 drug without consulting a doctor?
A: There are a few studies which have suggested that the BCG vaccine could play some role in providing protection against Covid-19, but there is no substantial evidence yet to support this theory. Also it would not be fair to come to any conclusion unless we have had sufficient study trials to support this.
One should not take any medicine without consulting a doctor — self-medication can be more harmful at times, so please refrain from it. There is no proven vaccine yet against Covid-19, so it is best not to indulge in any rumour or false information.
Q: What extra precautions can people with underlying conditions such as diabetes or asthma take to be in their best shape even if they contract the virus?
A: Patients with comorbid conditions like diabetes and asthma need to be vigilant about their health since they are more prone to develop infections. Though the basic precautions remain the same for all.
- Stay hydrated.
- Monitor your blood glucose.
- Monitor your temperature.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations.
- Give priority to foods with low glycaemic index (e.g. vegetables).
- If you do show flu-like symptoms (high temperature, cough, difficulty in breathing), it is important to consult a health care professional.
- Avoid smoking, including passive smoking.
- Avoid contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing.
- Continue your current medications, including inhalers.
- Don’t stop any medication or change your asthma treatment plan without talking to your health care provider.
- Minimize use of disinfectants that can cause an asthma attack. Avoid any known asthma triggers.
- Do deep breathing exercise at home, and please don’t over-stress yourself.
- It is well known that anxiety can bring on asthma attacks, or make them worse, so try to keep your mind calm.
Q: Some countries are trying plasma therapy to treat Covid-19. Can you explain how that might work?
A: Plasma therapy for treating Covid-19 is still in a nascent stage. Plasma therapy is like immunotherapy, which has been used for treating diseases like SARS and H1N1. During this therapy, the blood plasma of people who have been successfully cured is given to sick patients undergoing treatment. The idea is that cured people have neutralizing antibodies in them which, if used in active patients, can help in combating the viral load and, hence, nullifying the symptoms. But, again, this treatment is in a very early stage of trial, so we cannot completely rely on its efficacy for treating Covid-19 patients. Countries like the UK, where I am practising currently, have not started trials yet though they might consider it in the coming days.