Online doctor consultations in Bengaluru increases amidst Omicron scare

Footfalls in hospitals picking up slowly now, say doctors

As India heads into a third wave of COVID-19 infections amidst the Omicron scare, doctor consultations are seeing a gradual rise. While physical consultations have not increased, people are turning to doctors seeking help online.

According to integrated healthcare platform Practo, there has been a 21% increase in GP consults in Bengaluru since December 31. “People in the age group of 21-30 years constituted 45% of all online consultations. Those aged between 31 and 40 years comprised 41% of consultations, while senior citizens covered 14%. Concerns were mostly raised about COVID-related symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headache, body pain, and stuffy nose. There were also queries about Omicron, COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, and vaccines for children, among others,” a spokesperson told The Hindu.

Across the country, with close to 38,000 infections recorded on January 4, COVID-related doctor consultations saw a massive jump of 50% the next day, Practo said, adding that this was the highest single-day increase in doctor consultations in 120 days since the decline of the deadly second wave.

“More than 50% of all doctor consultations are for GPs and pulmonologists with major concerns like fever, sore throat, headache, body pain, stuffy nose, Omicron spread, COVID -19 vaccine booster doses, and vaccines for children, among others,” a statement from Practo said. Around 85% of these queries were come from metro cities. As far as the percentage of growth in queries was concerned, Mumbai saw the highest growth in GP-related consultations since January 1 at 132%, followed by Kolkata (106%), Delhi NCR (95%), Bengaluru (75%), Chennai (47%) and Hyderabad (42%).

On the other hand, physical consultations have not seen a major change yet and footfalls are slowly picking up now, said doctors. Former president of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA), R. Ravindra, said hospital footfalls had drastically come down and people were opting for online consultations well after the second wave almost till September 2021.

“People were scared to visit hospitals. They would call and ask if we can do the consultation online. Now it has picked up. But these are not specifically for Omicron. Unlike the second wave, where hospitals were full, people are getting tested and contact us if they are positive. Many are self medicating,” he added.

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