Following an increase in coronavirus infection in Nigeria, a governance expert, Dr Chiwuike Uba, has warned that asthma patients are at higher risk “due to pre-existing and underlying respiratory diseases”.
In an exclusive interview with Blueprint on Thursday, Uba, who is also the board chairman, Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF), an NGO with bias for asthma and other respiratory infections, said that COVID-19 is a disease that affects the respiratory tract (the nose, throat, and lungs); hence, trigger attack for asthma patients.
He said that COVID-19 infection can also lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease, which can be more serious in people with asthma and advised asthma patients to take extra precautions to avoid contracting the virus by maintaining stricter social and physical distancing and speaking with their doctor and taking medications as soon as possible.
He said: “The World Health Organisation has identified certain categories of people as high-risk groups and those who need critical care if they contract coronavirus. Those with asthma are at higher risk due to pre-existing and underlying respiratory disease– asthma. COVID-19 is also a disease that affects the respiratory tract (the nose, throat, and lungs); hence, cause asthma attack for those with asthma. This can also lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease, which can be more serious in people with asthma.
“The rescue inhaler used in asthma management contains steroids and there is some suspicion people with asthma may be more likely to get infected, because they are frequently on steroids, which can affect the immune system. Currently, critical albuterol inhaler medication shortage looms as coronavirus cases increase as a result of the increasing demand of these inhalers as the first line of defense for emergency room physicians treating patients, who possibly have COVID-19 and are in respiratory distress.
“The implication is that those with asthma may be in short supply of critical medication needed for asthma management. Therefore, there is need for asthmatics to take extra precautions as COVID-19 cases soar; in order to avoid asthma crisis and even COVID-19 infections.”