Alarming rise in dead-on-arrival Covid-19 cases

(FMT) – A doctor has sounded the alarm over the high number of dead-on-arrival, or DOA, Covid-19 patients aged below 55, saying they represent a particularly dangerous group of virus spreaders.

Speaking to FMT on condition of anonymity, he said these were people who would travel to work.

“They will mingle about more than those in their 60s,” he said. “If they are asymptomatic, they are the most dangerous group in terms of spreading the virus.”

DOA patients are those who test positive after they die. The doctor said they would most likely be asymptomatic.

According to data obtained from the health ministry, 692 Covid-related deaths were reported between April 23 and May 20. Of the number, 75 were DOA patients and 27 of the 75 were aged between 25 and 54.

The doctor said it did not help that the young might think they were not prone to Covid-19 and would seek medical help only when it was too late.

He said the sudden surge in community cases was worrying as it would be difficult to test and contact-trace those affected.

There was also the possibility of DOA cases infecting others before they die and test positive. By then, the doctor said, it would be too late to do anything.

“We worry about DOAs because these are the cases that slip through the cracks,” he said.

The increase in the number of DOAs could mean that the infectivity of a new strain that causes minimal or no symptoms might be accelerating at such a rate that patients become sick and die too quickly to give them time to get medical help.

Of the 1,837 Covid deaths recorded from January to May 25, the doctor said, 217 were DOA cases, 81 of which were detected in May alone.

Throughout last year, only 35 DOA cases were recorded.

Of the 217 this year, 28.8% were detected in Sabah, followed by Pahang (20.65%), Labuan (16.67%) and Kuala Lumpur (14.35%). Selangor had 11.07%.

The doctor attributed the relatively low figure in Selangor to the mass testing being carried out in the state.

“The only way to overcome DOAs is to ramp up testing and conduct mass testing in the community,” he said.

“Because of current policies, many would have gone untraced. And now we have to go back and trace these cases plus more, which makes our job very difficult.”