Karnataka govt issues health advisory after surge in respiratory illnesses in China

An advisory has been issued to the general public and a circular to district health authorities on how to handle the seasonal rise in influenza cases, in light of the spike in pneumonia cases being reported in China.
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The Karnataka Health Department on Tuesday, November 28, issued an advisory to the general public, as well as a circular to district health authorities, on how to handle the seasonal rise in influenza cases in light of the spike in pneumonia cases being reported in China. China has attributed the sudden increase in pneumonia infections in children to a pathogen called mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the Indian government has stated that all precautionary measures are being taken and the situation is being monitored.

In its circular to all district health officers, the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Services have asked to ensure that all hospitals and clinics in the district report influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) to the health department; closely monitor ILI and SARI cases and report any unusual increase immediately; ensure availability of essential drugs and PPE kits; and compulsorily wear masks in healthcare facilities.

“All hospitals that were designated to handle COVID-19 cases both in government and private shall immediately self-audit and conduct drills to evaluate for critical medical infrastructure and resources of medical and paramedical manpower, oxygen beds, isolation beds, ventilators, PSA plants, LMO plants, oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders as well as medicines, PPE kits, N95 medical masks, testing kits, and lab facilities, ambulances etc., to assess for readiness to handle public health emergency due to pneumonias, particularly in children and the elderly,” the circular read.

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The advisory to the public states that the seasonal flu is a ‘self-limiting disease’ that lasts for five to seven days and causes low morbidity and mortality. “At-risk populations include infants, the elderly, pregnant women, immunocompromised and those taking long-term medications, particularly steroids, would require hospitalisation. Fever, chills, malaise, loss of appetite, myalgia, nausea, sneezing, and dry cough lasting several days and sudden onset of malaise are common symptoms of this disease which may last up to 3 weeks in high-risk populations,” it stated. 

The circular also provided a list of dos and don’ts, which are listed below.

> Cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue when you cough or sneeze.

> Wash your hands often with soap and water.

> Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unnecessarily.

> Avoid visiting crowded places. If visiting, use a face mask.

> Maintain basic minimum distance from persons affected with flu.

> Sleep adequately, be physically active and deal with stress effectively.

> Drink plenty of water and eat nutritious food.

> Avoid spitting in public.

> Avoid travel to places with high incidence of Influenza and other respiratory illnesses.

Further, a list of advices has also been provided to people in case they exhibit symptoms of influenza, which are as follows.

> Visit the nearest government health care centre if the Influenza Like Illness (ILI) occurs.

> Stay at home, do not travel or go to work or school.

> Use a face mask for protection.

> Avoid close contact with others for at least seven days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer.

> Report to the nearest government health facility if symptoms aggravate; the symptoms being fever, chills, malaise, loss of appetite, body aches, nausea, sneezing and prolonged dry cough typically in connection with a sudden onset of illness.

> High risk population may experience the symptoms up to three weeks.

> Do not self medicate or take medicines or antibiotics without consulting your doctor, and follow medical advice appropriately.

Read: China pneumonia outbreak in children: Should India be worried?

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