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Stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients a major factor for high mortality, says AIIMS director

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Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Dr Randeep Guleria on Thursday said that an unlikely factor is leading to a rise in mortality among patients infected with the novel coronavirus. Dr Guleria described this factor as the stigmatization of patients.

“Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are facing stigma, this is creating panic and causing hardship for the patients and their family members,” Dr Randeep Guleria said. The veteran medical professional further added that many patients who might have symptoms of COVID-19 are not coming forward owing to this stigma.

“The infected patients are approaching healthcare officials at a later stage which is leading to increased mortality. As many as 95 per cent of these patients can simply be cured with oxygen treatment and close to 5 per cent need ventilators. However, this delay in approaching local healthcare officials is leading to delayed detection and higher mortality,” added Dr Guleria.

The doctor said we should sympathise with COVID-19 patients and their families instead of stigmatising them. He further added, “We should look at how we can support COVID-19 patients and their families. More and more people need to come out for testing.”

The veteran medical professional also said that convalescent plasma is being used to cure more and more patients and those who have recovered from COVID-19 are the same people volunteering in large numbers to donate their plasma. “This (COVID-19) is not a very deadly disease because 90-95 per cent of those infected can recover but the delayed treatment caused by stigma could lead to higher mortality among patients,” he said.

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