-(PTI Photo)

Mumbai: As the novel coronavirus or SARS COVID-19 as it is now known, is a new strain, there is no specific medicine available for it yet. Therefore, in accordance with the guidelines from the Union health ministry, afflicted patients at Kasturba Hospital are being treated with a cocktail of the anti-viral drug tamiflu or oseltamivir (used for swine flu) and other symptomatic medicines, depending on their condition.

Doctors say currently there is no specific drug for the treatment of COVID-19 and patients in the isolation ward at the Kasturba Hospital are being administered oseltamivir, used to treat swine flu patients.

“The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the use of oseltamivir, along with symptomatic drugs for patients. Patients with fever are being given Crocin, which also helps relieve headaches and body ache,” he said.

The ICMR has also received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to allow antiretroviral HIV medicines — lopinavir/ritonavir — for the treatment of COVID-19, whi­ch was earlier used to treat patients during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002, another respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus.

Dr Om Srivastav, epidemiologist at Kasturba Hospital, said they are still in the process of finalising the dosage of oseltamivir or HIV medicines for the treatment of patients.

Meanwhile, China is also running a clinical trial on the usage of HIV medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 infected patients but the results are yet to be made public.

“Currently, there is no vaccination or medicine, so doctors across the country are using different mixtures of medicines to treat patients. There is need for further research to establish how these drug combinations work,” he said.

But city-based psychiatrists have warned that isolation for days on end may lead to patients developing anxiety or sadness. A similar trend was observed in patients quarantined during the SARS breakout.

In the latest issue of Lancet, a science journal, 20 per cent of the isolated patients reported fear, 18 per cent complained of nervousness, 10 per cent reported guilt and another 18 per cent were diagnosed with sadness.

“Staying away from loved ones for weeks can take a toll on the mental health of people who are already sick. So, relatives should keep them engaged through telephonic communication and they should get counselling from in-house psychiatrists to cope with stress.

On their part, patients should keep themselves busy by reading or getting involved in other activities,” said psychiatrist Dr Sagar Mundada.

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