Co-Vid Pandemic has taken the entire world to a different level of anxiety and worry. It’s unpredictable and mysterious to know how this pandemic is going to behave. Guidelines written 1 month ago is now irrelevant as we are learning new things about this virus. Are we going to get out of this pandemic very soon? Are we going to be back to normal as we were last year? Will this virus stop its lethal bites taking away thousand more human lives and infect many more health care workers?
Health care workers world-wide are battling this difficult virus and though we have some success but how long will it be sustainable to keep this virus away? We speak about herd immunity and vaccines but there are no definite answers to it. The year 2020 was meant to be historic and special to many people in the world as various declarations and events planned in the name of 2020 but unfortunately the virus has made its notorious mark in the history of man-kind. How many of us will live to see another pandemic? The last pandemic was 100 years ago. Are we going to be prepared with many more pandemics which may haunt us within the next 100 years?
So many questions remains unanswered. We are not able to predict anything. All doctors are worried about their patients and their own well being. ENT surgeons have been the victims of this pandemic with one of the highest mortality recorded amongst health care workers. Many never expected the risk of getting infected especially when patients are asymptomatic but contagious. Air drops and vaporisation of the virus is known to be the greatest through the upper respiratory tract hence it endangers Anesthetist and Respiratory physicians as well.
We are going to face this pandemic for a long time. Movement Control Orders [MCO] will be soon taken off as there is another lethal effect with this pandemic, the economy. The world will go into a great economic slow down. What is going to hamper the growth in the healthcare related economy? The cost of healthcare will further increase as this pandemic is not cheap to control.
ENT doctors worldwide will have to be extra cautious with strict criteria. All patients will have to get compulsory testing and with mandatory Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] for the health care worker during each examination and procedures in ENT. We can not assume patients are negative Co-Vid as most symptoms are related to ENT. Clinical history will not be able to rule out Co-Vid infection.
ENT surgeries will have to be reviewed and criteria to be tightened. We have to take every step to protect healthcare workers and patients. Medical management of ENT patients will have to be enhanced and surgery may only be performed when there is an absolute indication. We hope precise clinical examination and imaging will be utilised to guide ENT doctors. Artificial intelligence platforms will be of use during this pandemic to assist in clinical diagnosis.
The future will be brighter once an effective vaccine is developed and a highly sensitive rapid test detecting antibodies is discovered. But until then we have to practice safe and contain the spread of this pandemic. Let’s work this together. It’s a war against the virus and every government in the world, hospitals, medical technology industries and insurances must work on this together shedding away all the usual norms. I hope we will see some progress soon.
12 April 2020
by the Editor, Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh