June 12, 2021

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Infectologist at Damas Hospital explains treatment for COVID-19 patients

Photo: Facebook / Hospital Damas

PONCE – Perhaps you are well educated or instructed on prevention measures to avoid getting COVID-19: frequent hand washing, use of a mask and minimum social distancing of 6 feet between people who do not live with you. But perhaps you still have doubts about how to treat yourself and what to do in the event that you test positive for the virus.

To clarify these doubts, the infectologist at the Damas de Ponce Hospital, Dr. Nilda Zapata answered the questions from La Perla del Sur in an interview.

In the first place, Dr. Zapata indicated that it is very important that once you suspect that you may be infected or have symptoms of the virus, a COVID-19 test is done to rule out or clarify if you actually have the virus.

Once it is confirmed that it is positive, if the person is asymptomatic, according to the infectologist, what is recommended is that they remain in isolation at home in a room with a separate bathroom. If the house has only one bathroom, it must be disinfected after each use. The other people who live in the home, if at any time they must approach the infected person, they should wear a mask at all times, preferably N95.

The asymptomatic person must spend at least 10 days in isolation, which is the time that the CDC has stipulated on the days when they can spread the virus to other people.

If, on the other hand, the person has symptoms or was asymptomatic and after 6 or 7 days the symptoms began, Dr. Zapata recommends that you call your family doctor to tell him what to do in your case or appear in the ward of emergencies for care.

Dr. Zapata pointed out that it is very important that when you arrive at the emergency room you indicate that you are positive for COVID-19 so that they quickly know how to treat you.

The first thing they will do with you is to evaluate your oxygenation level, if it is more than 94% you are stable and possibly they will send you home with acetaminophen for pain or fever. If your oxygenation is less than 94%, you will most likely be hospitalized for observation.

Depending on its severity they will put you in regular isolation or in intensive isolation if you need a fan.

At the moment, the treatment given to patients in the hospital is to administer the intravenous antiviral drug Remdesivir for 5 or 10 days depending on each case. To administer this drug daily, the patient’s liver, kidney and respiratory function must be monitored.

For some patients it is necessary to give them oxygenation, antibiotics and obviously keep them hydrated.

As explained by the infectologist, it is not necessary for the patient to test negative to be discharged from the hospital. If you do not have a fever and are totally asymptomatic for 48 hours, you are sent home. “The most important thing is that he has improved his respiratory symptoms and that he does not need oxygen,” said Dr. Zapata.

He added that there is an outpatient treatment that is not yet available in all hospitals in Puerto Rico, with the exception of one in Bayamón, which involves administering monoclonal antibodies to the patient, a protein that is made in a laboratory and that when the patient receives it, These antibodies attack the virus preventing the patient from worsening his condition and being able to go home immunologically strengthened.

As he explained, the Secretary of Health of Puerto Rico wants to make this treatment accessible to other hospitals but it requires facilities, equipment and trained personnel that are not yet available.

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