Srinagar Mar 15: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Sunday said older people are more vulnerable to develop severe illness and death from the novel (new) coronavirus that has so far killed at least 5,839 people and infected 156,885worldwide.
“If you are old, you are at a higher risk of having a severe disease and evendeath from the novel virus,” said DAK PresidentDr Nisar ul Hassan.
Based on data from confirmed cases of the novel virus, Dr Nisar said about 80% of people who died from the virus were above 60 years of age.
“The highest death rate was in people over the age of 80,” he said adding “around 15% of people in this age group died from the disease.”
Dr Nisar said people with underlying chronic medical conditions also increase the risk of dying from the new virus.
He said while the fatality rate in patients with no health conditions was 1.4%, it was 13.2% for those with heart disease, 9.2% for those with diabetes, 8.4% for people with high blood pressure, 8% for people with chronic lung disease, and 7.6% for those with cancer.
Dr Nisar said elderly and people with medical conditions have weak immune system that promotes viral replication leaving them at a higher risk of developing severe complications from the virus.
He said it is important to remember that older people may not manifest with the usual symptoms of the novel coronavirus that are fever and cough.
“We should be alert for atypical presentations in them,” Dr Nisar said.
“Feeling weak or changes in mental status might be the only signs of infection in older people. A fall or forgetfulness or feeling of unwellness in an elderly could be due to the viral illness, even if other, more common symptoms aren’t in evidence,” he said.
“Older people and those with comorbidities should take extra precautions to prevent the contraction of virus. Apart from maintaining personal hygiene by hand washing, they should try to stay home as much as they can, and avoid crowds and nonessential travel,” said Dr Nisar.