Updated: March 25, 2021 9:57:40 am
In Maharashtra, health authorities have been able to detect 295 Covid-19 cases among persons with TB between October and December last year.
Tuberculosis and Covid-19 are infectious diseases which primarily attack the lungs. They present with similar symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty breathing. Covid screening for diagnosed TB patients was initiated in October last year in the state.
According to the guidelines of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, newly-diagnosed TB patients or those on treatment were tested for Covid-19.
As many as 15,789 patients with TB were screened for Covid-19 from October till December and a total of 295 were detected with coronavirus infection, said Dr R S Adkeekar, said state TB officer. District-wise data for January and February this year is still being sent to the state Health department, officials said.
March 24 is World TB Day and global studies have shown the impact that Covid-19 pandemic has had, with fewer TB cases being reported to the government health systems. In India, there was an overall decline in TB notification by 26 per cent between January and June 2020 as compared to the previous year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic
The state TB officer admitted that almost all districts had shown a reduction in TB notifications and from January till December last year, the state was able to detect 1.6 lakh new cases of TB. According to data with the State TB office, 2.27 lakh new cases of TB were detected in 2019.
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“However, now case notifications have picked up and approximately 11,000-12,000 cases of TB are being detected every month since October last year,” Dr Adkeekar said. To step up the effort of actively finding new TB cases, state health officials also undertook a house-to-house survey. “This was part of this active case finding from December 1 to 31, and we were able to pick up another 10,797 TB cases in addition to the regular TB notifications reported every month. The month-long search was further extended till January 31 and so far, 20,069 TB cases have been picked up in the active case finding,” said health officials.
For instance, in Pune city, the number of TB cases notified from both public and private sector was 7,813 from January till December 2019, which had dipped to 5,493 from January till December 2020.
However, now the number of notifications have started picking up, said city TB officials.
Dr Sanjay Gaikwad, chairman of the zonal task force for TB prevention and control – west zone (Maharashtra, MP, Rajasthan, Goa and Gujarat), said that their focus is on ‘TB free India’. “We have many plans and the focus should be on how to eliminate the disease. TB notifications have been reduced… let’s explore this opportunity of the Covid pandemic to step up awareness of airborne disease transmission,” he said.
“Each district should take up activities to ensure that they are free of TB… the main strategy is to wear masks and also give them to family members of persons with TB as a strategy to prevent TB,” said Dr Gaikwad, who is also head of pulmonary medicine at B J Medical College.
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