Even as Bengaluru has seen a drop in active Covid-19 cases and a healthy recovery rate in the last one month, doctors in several private hospitals have raised concerns over the increase in the number of Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI). At least two hospitals – Manipal Hospitals and ACE Suhas Hospital in Jigani, on the outskirts of Bengaluru – have reported an increase in the number of SARI cases recently.
While Manipal Hospitals reported around 20 SARI cases, ACE Suhas Hospital said it had registered a 150 per cent rise in such cases.
Dr Jagadish Hiremath of Suhas Hospital attributed the hike to weather and people “lowering their guard” in fight against the coronavirus infection.
“This is a season of a ‘twindemic’ with both flu and COVID-19 infections, as the respiratory viral season is underway till as late as April. If we can diminish the risk from influenza to any extent in the context where COVID-19 is still going on, I think that’s the most important concept that people need to consider,” he said.
Dr Hiremath added that SARI can add to the severity of Covid-19 infection in patients with a history of facing respiratory issues and other comorbidities. “Such cases have more chances when the infection can get very severe,” he said.
He added that the winter season has contributed to SARI cases among children as well. “We have observed a 20 to 30 per cent increase in severe cases of SARI among kids in the past few days,” he said.
Dr Sheetal Chaurasia of Manipal Hospitals said that “while the severity of the infection remains the same as before, ten to fifteen percent of the cases are severe, since they are reported late’.
She added that while a possible second wave is yet to create an impact on the Indian population, unlike the United Kingdom, the impact may vary depending on factors like genetic susceptibility.. “The next two weeks are extremely crucial for management in the surge of cases even as the holiday season gets over,” she said.
Dr Chaurasia highlighted that the wards at the hospital were filled to 50 per cent capacity at present. “We will know if we are heading to a surge if the capacity is more than half of it, and the emergency and out-patient department wards increase with ten to twenty cases daily,” she remarked.
Dr Sachin D, a consultant at Manipal Hospitals said the increase in SARI cases might add burden to the healthcare sector as the pandemic is still underway. “In the case of the new Covid strain causing more infections, this can definitely cause trouble to the healthcare sector. Proper measures need to be taken to prevent the new strain to cause a second wave of the pandemic. Essential steps like proper tracing, early diagnostic testing, prompt treatment, and isolation of people diagnosed with the new strain of Covid-19 need to continue,” he said.
Dr Chinnadurai R, Lead Consultant (Department of Critical Care), Aster RV Hospital said the severity of SARI cases among people seeking treatment at his hospital continued to be low. “While flu is more common in winter, Covid-19 did not act as a catalyst to it this time around. The number of patients with severe infections has also remained low, fortunately, in the last few weeks,” he said.
Earlier in July, many SARI and Influenza-like Illness (ILI) cases were reported to have contributed to the then rising Covid-19 caseload in Karnataka and in Bengaluru alike. This had led to the state government ordering all chemists, druggists and pharmacists across hospitals to note down the contact details of all those purchasing medicines for the “treatment of symptoms like fever (antipyretics and anti-inflammatory), cold (anti-allergic) and cough (anti-tussive)” in a bid to keep cases under check.
As per the data released by the Department of Health and Family Welfare Services, Karnataka reported 58,027 cases between November 2 and December 2 last year. Active cases in Bengaluru have dropped to 6,964 on January 2 while the same was at 18,390 on December 2 last year.
The death rate linked to the pandemic has also slowed down with 291 people succumbing to the infection across the state (166 in Bengaluru alone). The same was 587 and 268 in Karnataka and Bengaluru respectively between November 2 and December 2 last year.
While over 3.77 lakh people have recovered from coronavirus in Bengaluru, the number is nearly 9 lakh across the state since March 2020.
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