Covid-19: Doctors worried about patients isolating at home after man dies

One of New Zealand’s top doctors has expressed concern about Covid-19 patients isolating at home after a 40-year-old man died. Dr Samantha Murton, the president of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, said doctors around the country had worries about patients being left to monitor their own symptoms. It comes after the man who had been self-isolating was found dead by a visiting family member at a house in Manukau, South Auckland on Wednesday.Ricky Wilson/StuffThere is concern that people isolating at home will not know what symptoms to be worried about. (File photo) The death is being treated as unexplained and has been referred to the coroner. READ MORE:* Covid-19: Death of Covid case in home isolation ‘unexplained’* Covid-19: Up to 900 weekly cases in Southern worst-case scenario* Covid-19: Three-hour ambulance wait for rural Northland case in home isolation “People don’t actually recognise what symptoms we as health professionals would worry about and what symptoms we don’t need to worry about,” Murton said. She said GPs across the country had concerns about how exactly those living on their own might be managed and whether there were enough fail-safes in place. “If you don’t have people who can watch you, then you might take a turn for the worse in a few hours,” Murton said.SuppliedDr Samantha Murton says doctors are worried about Covid-19 cases isolating at home alone. “And unless … those contact systems that are in place happen to contact you within those few hours, then where do you go? Who do you call? And what happens to you?” Speaking on The AM Show on Thursday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said cases were checked on daily, but the form of contact varied. He said for some people it was an email or a phone call, while others needed safe face-to-face contact. Those who don’t respond to emails are followed up by phone, he said. But Dr Matire Harwood, who works at the Papakura Marae Health Clinic, claimed there was a “disconnection” between what public health officials said they were doing and what they were actually doing.Ricky Wilson/StuffDr Matire Harwood has taken it upon herself to check in with patients who are self-isolating at home. She said she had about eight patients isolating at home and she and her team had taken it upon themselves to do home visits three times a week. For her patients, a call or an email was not enough, she said. There was danger in leaving people to self-monitor a condition they often knew nothing about, Harwood said. Wednesday’s death is New Zealand’s first possible Covid-linked death outside a hospital in the Delta outbreak and would be the 29th overall from the virus since the start of the pandemic, if confirmed. It remains “unexplained”, according to Bloomfield. A spokesman from the Ministry of Health said he could not answer questions about the case but gave broader details around care for patients in self-isolation. He said on top of phone calls and emails, but he did not say how regularly this happened. People were also given a pulse oximeter to help monitor their health. All positive cases were told to call 111 if they need urgent medical attention or were having issues breathing, the spokesman said. A review of the public health and clinical oversight of the case will be carried out by the Ministry of Health.

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