When to seek medical help and quarantine

MUSCAT: As the general public continues to ask when one should go for medical assistance, Observer spoke to Dr Nenad Pandak, Infectious Diseases Consultant, Royal Hospital. According to him, the symptoms are usually the upper respiratory tract infection meaning that it could be fever, body ache or running nose.

“The symptom could be any kind of typical infection like the common cold. This could be the beginning of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. This kind of health condition along with any contact with someone who has travelled from abroad are reasons that one must get advice from a doctor,” said Dr Nenad.

If an individual is ill, he/she can go to any medical centre and it is from this point the following steps will be taken into consideration.

In case the doctor suspects the condition that of coronavirus infection, he will recommend the patient to go to the secondary or tertiary hospital where more investigations can be performed.

“First of all if the doctor in the tertiary hospital’s emergency room concludes there is a possibility that the patient is infected with Coronavirus then they will conduct investigations such as nasopharyngeal swab (NP) for the presence of Coronavirus. The result of this would take one to five days. The other test the doctor will conduct to confirm the case is the old fashioned x-ray and blood tests. The chest X-ray and epidemiological data and the laboratory test results will help the doctor to conclude whether the individual is suffering from the infection of COVID-19 or not,” he explained.

These tests would allow the doctor to conclude whether the patient has pneumonia (which could have been assessed from chest X-ray) and accordingly the doctor will decide whether the individual should be treated as an outpatient or needs to be hospitalised.

Admission to the hospital means the person has to be admitted in the isolation room waiting for the swab sample result. If the doctor feels the patient can be discharged and can be treated as outpatient then the patient is going to be isolated at home and the person has to obey the home quarantine rules.

What do these rules mean?

“If the patient has family who are asymptomatic then this means that the individual as a symptomatic person must be isolated in a separate room and when he/she exits the isolation – apartment or house, one must wear mask not to infect others. This quarantine lasts for two weeks. If the status of the patient is not improving and continues to have high fever and experience breathlessness, then the patient must phone the doctor to report so and the doctor will inform exactly what time the patient must got the hospital for further investigations. Never go out or go to the hospital without wearing a mask and this is not to spread virus with possible contacts around the diagnosed person,” Dr Nenad explained.

If the patient is in the hospital and is treated for pneumonia in isolation or he is at the hospital for the follow up then the Coronavirus tests are going to be repeated. “After two negative test results for Coronavirus the individual will be discharged but on the other hand, in case the health is deteriorating, as it can happen as this is a serious disease, then the patient will be admitted to High Dependency or Intensive Care Unit for further treatment,” he noted.

The hotline of Ministry of Health is 24441999 and the additional 24-hourCall Center is 1212.