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A student gets inoculated with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a school in Patna on January 10. Image Credit: ANI

Patna: The people of Indian state of Bihar are fighting the third wave of COVID-19 by staying home with a majority of infected persons opting for home isolation and relying on traditional methods, rather than living in panic and rushing to hospitals as witnessed during the first two waves of the pandemic. Currently, about just one per cent of the COVID-19 positive patients required hospitalisation.

According to a health department report, the total number of active COVID-19 cases in Bihar stood at 25,051 till Tuesday. Of them, around 99 per cent of infected persons in the state are currently under home isolation while the hospitalisation rate in the third wave remains at just 0.9 per cent. Another important development being noticed this time is that the infected people are not so panicky.

“Majority of the people are opting for home isolation and they are recovering from the infection in 5-7 days,” Bihar health secretary Pratyay Amrit said. Earlier the health department used to focus on contact tracing but this time, it is community spread. “We are soon starting regular monitoring and tracking of COVID-19 patients in home isolation across the state,” Amrit said.

A health department report said of the total around one per cent of persons seeking hospitalisation this time, 2.6 per cent of them have been admitted to the dedicated COVID hospitals, 0.5 per cent to the dedicated health centres whereas 0.9 per cent has been admitted to the private hospitals. The health department has arranged 25,974 beds for COVID patients, in addition to another 9,027 beds with oxygen facilities.

Reports said a majority of the COVID-19 positive patients are relying on traditional methods such as sipping hot herbal juice, drinking warm water or doing gargle with turmeric powder and salt mixed with warm water to fight coronavirus.

“I regularly used warm water, sipped herbal juice and did gargle during home isolation soon after testing positive. At the same time, I strictly followed the doctors’ advice at home. I tested negative after five days,” said Patna city resident Sangeeta Jhunjhunwala whose entire family got infected.

52% infected are in 20-39 age group

Another Patna resident Manali Rani has a similar story. “My entire family of six tested positive on January 4 but we didn’t lose patience. We used herbal drinks, warm water, took steam and stayed in home isolation wearing facemasks all the time. We all recovered in five days,” says Manali.

Abhishek Kumar, a teacher, however, turned to yoga and kept himself busy in office work and recovered. “I hurriedly isolated myself in a room, routinely did yoga asans (posture), took a balanced diet and kept busy in work soon after testing positive last week. I recovered in six days,” Kumar informed.

Health experts said the third wave is relatively mild and people are not reporting any breathing issues. Also, the people are not suffering from high fever or weakness, and rather are getting recovered within 4-5 days.

“Only about one per cent of infected persons are requiring hospitalisation this time. Even those getting admitted are recovering fast,” said Dr Ajay Kumar, head of medicine department at Patna’s Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH).

Medical superintendent at Patna’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Dr CM Singh too said the infected people were not having serious symptoms. “People are recovering in home isolation only and majority of them are also not requiring oxygen support,” Dr Singh informed.

What is alarming, however, is that a huge 51.90 per cent of people getting infected this time are in the age-group of 20-39, according to a health department report released on Tuesday.

According to the report, 1.9 per cent infected people are in the age-group of 0-9 years, 10 per cent in 10-19, 28 per cent in 20-29, 23.90 per cent in 30-39, 15.20 in 40-49 and 12.50 in 50-59 age-groups while 8.6 per cent of infected persons are senior citizens aged above 60.