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Increasing Pollution Levels May Lead To Increased COVID-19 Cases: Experts

At a press conference, Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General (DG) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said air pollution might be a contributing factor to mortality in COVID-19 infection

Increasing Pollution Levels May Lead To Increased COVID-19 Cases: Experts
Highlights
  • Air quality has already reached ‘very poor’ category in Delhi-NCR
  • Pollution is going to be a big challenge this year: Dr Vikash Maurya
  • Air quality will worsen; effect will be seen after Diwali: Dr Maurya

New Delhi: The increasing pollution levels in Delhi and adjoining areas may contribute to the increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths due to the virus, experts said on Tuesday (October 27). Speaking at the Union Health Ministry’s press conference, Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, and Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General (DG) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) agreed that increasing pollution around the national capital and adjoining areas may lead to increase in Coronavirus cases.

Also Read: Study Estimates Exposure To Air Pollution Increases COVID-19 Deaths By 15 Per Cent Worldwide

We have heard that the effect of the disease may increase with the increased pollution, but we are yet to understand it fully, said Dr Paul.

Answering a question, Dr Bhargava also agreed with Dr Paul and said pollution might be a contributing factor to mortality in COVID-19 infection.

There have been studies from Europe and the US, where they have looked at polluted areas and have compared mortality during lockdown and correlation with pollution, and found clearly that pollution is contributing to mortality in COVID, that’s well established by studies, ICMR chief said.

Air quality deteriorates in the national capital with the rise of pollutants in the atmosphere and overall Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the “very poor” category, said the Delhi Pollution Control Committee data on Tuesday.

Also Read: Delhi Fighting A Dual Battle Of Coronavirus And Air Pollution, Warn Experts

Dr Arvind Kumar, Chairman of Centre for Chest Surgery Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, in an earlier interaction with ANI said that people having pre-existing lung ailments are more vulnerable to catch COVID-19 infection, and therefore, they should be extra careful.

Dr Vikash Maurya, Head of Respiratory medicine department at Fortis Hospital also said that with the COVID-19 crisis, pollution is going to be a big challenge this year.

Also Read: Air Pollution May Hinder India’s Fight Against COVID-19, Say Scientists

This is just the start of air pollution. Air quality has already become poor and will worse in the coming days. Its side-effect would be seen after the Diwali celebration and extreme winters. The bottom line is- we have to be cautious now as this time we have COVID-19 crisis too and this is going to be a very big challenge for all of us, said Dr Maurya.

According to an ICMR study, about 4 lakh deaths in India in 2017 were due to air pollution, which included 6.7 lakh deaths due to outdoor particulate matter air pollution and 4.8 lakh deaths due to household air pollution. The highest PM2.5 exposure level was in Delhi, followed by the other north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana.

Also Read: Air Pollution Rises In Delhi-NCR, Gurugram Citizens Call For Action Against Waste Burning And Tackle It Like COVID-19

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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