COVID-19: Difficulty in breathing, most significant symptom predictor of death in Lagos —Experts

EXPERTS say although cough is the most common symptom of COVID-19 seen at the treatment centres in Lagos State, difficulty in breathing is the strongest predictor that any individual with this infection may end up dying as a result.

The experts had reviewed the first 2,184 patients at the nine isolation and COVID-19 treatment centres in Lagos and found that cough (19.3 per cent) was the most common presenting symptom. This was followed by fever (13.7 per cent) and difficulty in breathing, (10.9 per cent). Also, there was headaches (7.3 per cent), weakness (6.3 per cent), loss of sense of smell and taste (4.9 per cent) and throat irritation (4.9 per cent).

All other symptoms that were presented by only one patient, included hoarse voice, tooth pain, hearing impairment, tingling sensations, vaginal discharge, excessive sweating, constipation and body itching.

The study indicated that the youngest persons treated for COVID-19 was a four-day-old baby and the oldest was 98 years. More than half (53.2 per cent) were between 30 and 50 years.

Only 2.9 per cent were children, while 3.8 per cent were 70 years and older. They were mostly male and had moderately severe symptoms (66 per cent), while only 16 per cent were asymptomatic reported the 2021 International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

According to the review, more deaths occurred among older patients, males and patients admitted in non-government treatment facilities. Also, more deaths occurred in persons with existing co-morbidities and this jumped up with an increasing number of co-morbidities.

In addition, patients with at least one co-existing morbidity were 2.45 more likely to have died, compared to those without comorbidities and males were 2.21 times more likely to have died.

The  researchers reported a case fatality rate of 4.3 per cent, which is the proportion of deaths from a certain disease compared to the total number of people diagnosed with the disease for a particular period.

They declared that late presentation appears to be the most significant predictor of poor outcomes as patients presented in severe or critical states were more likely to have died compared to those presented in mild clinical states.

The experts, however, asked that primary care physicians and COVID-19 frontline workers maintain a high index of suspicion and prioritise the care of patients presenting these symptoms.

They added that emphasis should be placed on older males with co-morbid conditions, while community members should ensure that patients with these symptoms sought care early to reduce the risk of deaths associated with COVID-19.

Lagos State remains the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria. Experts say that understanding the symptoms profile of the infection is important in formulating a practicable approach to rapidly identify cases and assess the course of infection. This will improve treatment outcomes and reduce disease transmission and death rates.

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