-(PTI Photo)

Mumbai: Faced with the looming menace of coronavirus, entire families have been doing the rounds of private hospitals and clinics, seeking to be tested for novel coronavirus.

Doctors at private and government hospitals said, in the last two weeks, cases had increased by 20-25 per cent and on a weekly basis, they have been treating 15-20 cases of seasonal flu caused by fluctuations in day and night temperatures.

“COVID-19 has created panic amongst citizens so that they are doing the rounds of private and government hospitals to get tested. On a weekly basis, we are getting around 15 cases, where people with flu symptoms are seeking diagnostic tests at our hospital,” said Dr Om Srivastava, city-based epidemiologist.

Doctors said, worldwide, the symptoms reported by patients across the globe are similar to those of seasonal flu or influenza and vary from mild to severe, and can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

These similar symptoms have caused people to panic, doctors said. Dr Gautam Bhansali, a consultant general physician at Bombay Hospital said, as a precautionary measure, patients with seasonal flu are taking their parents, spouses and children for testing.

“The panic is pronounced among people with diseases related to low immunity and foreign travel histories. Each time we get patients who have travelled to affected countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy, among others, we are referring them to the government hospital,” he said.

On the other hand, citizens are not aware that only two government-accredited laboratories in the city - the civic-run Kasturba Gandhi hospital and the National Institute of Virology, Pune, are equipped to do the testing. Stricken by the fear of being quarantined, only 20 per cent of the referred patients are actually visiting Kasturba Hospital for check-ups.

Doctors said, on a weekly basis, they are getting at least five patients who want to be tested for coronavirus.

“If the person does not have a travel history to the affected countries or states, we are keeping them on telephonic observation for a week. Our officers follow up with them every day until they get completely cured,” she said.

According to doctors, cases of seasonal influenza have increased by almost 15 to 20 per cent in the last two weeks. Earlier, patients with cold and fever would take over-the-counter medication. But now, even for minor similar symptoms, people are rushing to hospitals for testing.

“Earlier, people would buy medicines over-the-counter if they developed seasonal flu. But now, on a weekly basis, we are getting over 50 patients with minor seasonal influenza. With rising awareness, people have also become cautious, which is a good sign,” said Dr Vikrant Shah, infection specialist from Zen Hospital.

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Free Press Journal