Attendees of COVID-19 patients scramble for oxygen cylinders at a hospital in Srinagar on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 (Photo: KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar: A month ago, a 60-year-old man who had tested negative for the virus was recovering at home. He thought he had left behind the dark shadow of the virus when it came back to haunt him.

During his recovery period, he suddenly complained of breathlessness and was rushed to the hospital.

“He was initially treated as COVID pneumonia at SMHS Hospital for 12 days. Later, he was discharged on domiciliary oxygen, after a repeat COVID test came negative,” the doctor treating him said.

The patient was recovering well enough for the first four days at home. On the fifth day, he developed breathlessness and was brought to the hospital again.

“His blood pressure was low, and his ECG was showing Tachycardia (Tachycardia is the medical term for a heart rate over 100 beats per minute),” the doctor said.

Following which, his angiography test further revealed that he had developed “Pulmonary embolism”.

“Pulmonary embolism is caused by a blocked artery in the lungs. The most common cause of such a blockage is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein in the leg and travels to the lungs, where it gets lodged in a smaller lung artery. Consequently, the patient died within six hours of admission,” he said.

Similarly, two weeks ago, a 48-year-old female who was sent home after testing negative, was happy about her improvement in health. However, her happiness proved short-lived.

On her fourth day at home, she developed breathlessness and was rushed to SMHS hospital.

“On examination, the patient had developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. She was immediately intubated and put on a ventilator.  However, she died in ICU one day after the intubation.

As COVID-19 cases continue to soar worldwide, the evidence is becoming clear that COVID is simply not just a cold or flu-like infection. It poses risk for people across all age groups, in different degrees, and affects some more gravely than the others.

Kashmir is also witnessing a similar pattern. For many, the viral load may have depleted but some recovered patients are returning to hospitals, complaining of heart issues, breathlessness, fatigue, mental distress and much more.

Dr Shahnawaz B Kaloo, a Kashmiri doctor based in Delhi said evidence shows that some of COVID survivors are likely to have significant ongoing health problems.

“Thus includes breathing difficulties, enduring tiredness, reduced muscle function, impaired ability to perform vital everyday tasks, and mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression,” he said.

Dr Kaloo stresses that more research is going on and as more evidence becomes available the post-COVID effects can be understood in a better way.

“However mental health problems are likely to affect most people. This is mainly due to fake news related to COVID, social stigmatization, and lack of public education on the topic,” he said.

Professor of Surgery, GMC Srinagar, Dr Iqbal Saleem said the Chinese were reporting lung fibrosis (A lung disease that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. This thickened, stiff tissue makes it more difficult for your lungs to work properly) as a long term complication in patients who had acquired the infection.

“We are not receiving that many problems as of yet. It is too early to say anything,” he said.

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About the Author

When the world fails to make sense, Hirra Azmat seeks solace in words. Both worlds, literary and the physical lend color to her journalism.

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