- There is a need to be extra careful in Delhi: Dr. Guleria
- Senior citizens and people with co-morbidities need to be extra vigilant
- High level of pollution in Delhi will increase COVID-19 cases: Experts
New Delhi: Super-spreading events of COVID-19, in which big crowds with attendees do not take precautions leading to spread of infections on a large scale, must have occurred in Delhi, said All India Institute of Medical Sciences Delhi (AIIMS), Director, Dr Randeep Guleria on Wednesday (November 11). The AIIMS Director said super-spreading might have been the reason behind the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the national capital after the dip.
What happens is if in a crowd one does not wear mask, one person who may be asymptomatic and is highly infectious he can spread the disease to a large number of people in the crowd. If they get the disease, they will take it to the area they go to, their own family members, their relatives and they will again spread the disease. So you can have super spreading events, and it is likely that this has happened in Delhi. There were crowds, people did not take precautions and they were super spreading events and this led to an increase in the number of cases, Dr. Guleria told ANI.
He further said there was a need for everyone in the national capital to be extra cautious and avoid crowds and wear masks at all points of time when they are in areas with a large number of people.
We are seeing an increasing surge of cases in Delhi, and the numbers are increasing with time. The number of cases had come down to 2,000 from 4,000, and now they are going upwards of 7,000 and up to 8,000 in a day, this is also reflected in increased hospital admissions and to some extent in mortality There is a need to be extra careful in Delhi, what it means is we need to make sure there is no crowding, people wear masks when they are in markets or functions where there is crowd, he added.
The AIIMS Director said although avoiding crowds might be difficult, keeping the festive and marriage season in mind, but with the change in temperature, deteriorating air pollution levels there is an increasing need to be more cautious.
He also advised senior citizens and people with co-morbidities to be extra vigilant during this phase.
Dr. Guleria also said that high levels of air pollution, combined with COVID-19 will not only aggravate severe disease but can also lead to an increase in mortality. He said increased air pollution, specially during winters, can help the virus in surviving longer, thereby affecting more people. He also added that both affect the lungs and blood vessels, thereby aggravating to the impact.
If you have high levels of air pollution, especially during winter months, then due to pollution and inversion, pollutants stay at ground level for a longer period of time and the virus can also survive for a longer period and therefore can spread to others. Also, air pollution itself causes inflammation in the lungs, it causes inflammation in blood vessels, and this has been documented in a large number of studies. COVID-19 also affects lungs and blood vessels so a combination of air pollution and COVID-19 can cause more severe disease, he told ANI.
He further cited a study conducted during the SARS outbreak in China, to prove that increased air pollution affects the mortality rate in affected patients.
There was a study done in 2002-03, during the SARS outbreak in China, which showed that for every increase in PM 2.5 by 1 microgram/ per meter cube there was an increase in mortality due to SARS infection by about 8 per cent, Dr. Guleria said.
He further cited two more studies, one conducted in northern Italy while the latter was done in the US, done during the recent COVID-19 pandemic to prove how harmful COVID-19 coupled with pollution can get.
A more recent study done in northern Italy during COVID-19 time, where they looked at different districts in northern Italy and compared the mortality with air pollution again showed that there was an increase in mortality in areas where pollution levels were high. Now there is another study, which is pre-print, done by Howard School of Public Health in the US. They have looked at different counties and tried to compare mortality because of COVID-19 and air pollution, and after doing corrections for other biases, which can be there, again the study shows that there can be an 8 per cent increase in COVID related mortality with every 1 microgram per meter cube increase in PM 2.5, he added.
The AIIMS Director also urged people to celebrate a Green Diwali, without bursting any crackers this year. He said there is a “very high level of pollution in Indian-Gangetic belt especially in cities like Delhi” and also urged people to maintain all precautions including wearing masks, physical distancing and avoid crowds during the festive season
As per the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday, there are 41,385 active COVID-19 cases in the national capital, while 4,02,854 patients have been cured and discharged so far. Over 7,000 fatalities have been reported due to the disease in the national capital so far.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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