Even though Bengaluru has been maintaining a lowered COVID-19 positivity and fatality rate, clinicians and public health experts warn that the public should not throw caution to the wind, rather they should take extra precautions owing to the current weather. With cloudy skies, intermittent rains and a nip in the air over the last month, hospitals in the city are seeing patients flocking with cases of seasonal influenza cases and other bacterial diseases.
Doctors say that with the symptoms of these illnesses being common to that of COVID-19, they have to now go through a longer process of diagnosing the actual medical condition of the patient before starting treatment.
Dr Sachin D, Interventional Pulmonologist, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine specialist at Manipal Hospitals, said, â€śIt is true that the current crisis has made the situation more challenging for us. We are forced to test for both COVID-19 and other viral diseases based on the symptoms.â€ť
He added that in some cases, a patient can suffer from both COVID-19 and other forms of viral fever. â€śIf they test positive for dual viral infections, we can then administer anti-viral medicines based on the diagnosis. There are also cases of seasonal influenza and dengue jointly affecting patients.â€ť
He suggested that the public should adhere to general COVID-19 guidelines of masking, physical distancing and sanitisation. In addition, he said he has seen patients who got infected even after attending small family gatherings. â€śSo, we should not let our guard down at all, especially in the next two months when this cold weather is expected to persist,â€ť he said.
Dr Srikanta JT, Consultant, Paediatric Pulmonology, Aster CMI Hospital, told TNM that it is really difficult to ascertain the exact cause of the illnesses. He suggested that people should follow respiratory etiquette such as covering their faces and nose while sneezing or coughing, eating healthy food, getting adequate sleep, and vaccinating themselves and their children with seasonal influenza vaccine (flu vaccine). â€śThis will go a long way in public health measures to prevent not only COVID-19 but also seasonal infections,â€ť he explained.
There are also chances of pneumonia increasing among children and newborns, which can be caused either due to a viral or a bacterial infection, he added.
Similarly, Dr Ravindra Mehta, Head of Pulmonology at Apollo Hospitals and member of BBMP COVID Committee, said, â€śAt least two out of 10 people who come to us with similar symptoms end up not having COVID-19, but other viral infections. We have been trying to figure out if it is H1N1, but by and large, they look like alternative viruses or fever-like illnesses.â€ť
He added, â€śOne of our senior doctors presented with fever for 3â€“4 days. He took three COVID-19 tests in a span of just four days, one of which was a rapid antigen, and two of which were RT-PCR. He also did a CT scan, but it did not show signs of COVID-19. One of his markers and other tests were indicative of either some viral infection or typhoid fever, we treated him for typhoid fever and he got better. He has now been cured completely.â€ť