NEW DELHI: Air pollution could increase transmission of new coronavirus making people more susceptible to disease and worsening COVID-19 situation, experts say, while warning that those who have had an infection in the past may also have to face new challenges.
With winters approaching and coronavirus-induced blockage easing, Delhi-NCR is preparing for months with poor air quality.
The air quality of the national capital was in the ‘poor’ category on Sunday morning.
According to doctors, respiratory diseases like viral flu increase with an increase in pollution levels as poor air quality leads to inflammation in the lungs making it more vulnerable to virus penetration.
“This year, we have COVID-19. Like the usual cold, the transmission of this virus is expected to increase with an increase in pollution levels. We can see a further increase in cases. It would be a taxing time for the centers. of testing as they should care for people with coronavirus and also non-COVID patients with similar symptoms, “Neeraj Nischal, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at AIIMS, told PTI.
Experts think that the most affected would be people in the lower socio-economic class without access to masks and also vulnerable to additional risk factors such as tower smoke.
“Apart from transmission, the appearance of COVID-19 like other viral respiratory diseases will be more severe in areas with high pollution. This will aggravate hospitals as more patients become symptomatic, seeking admission,” Nischal said.
According to Neeraj Gupta, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary, Critical and Sleep Medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, mortality has been linked to population density, proximity to people and highly industrialized or urbanized areas which have higher levels of pollution. .
These factors are likely to become more effective during the festive season and winters, especially in northern India where straw burning is common and it greatly affects air quality, he said.
“Italy showed a possible link between PM 2.5 concentration and excessive mortality to the extent that a unit increase is accompanied by a 9 per cent increase in COVID-19 mortality,” Gupta said, adding that pollution could also help transmit new coronavirus.
During smog, particulate matter hovers in the air near the earth’s surface for a longer period making it conducive to virus transmission, he elaborated.
Suranjit Chatterjee, senior internal medicine consultant at Apollo Hospitals, said, “We really do not know how this virus will behave. But we need to prepare for the worst, as the level of pollution increases and with “winter setting. it will be a dangerous combination.”
He warned that people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma and bronchitis, were at a much higher risk of being infected with coronavirus infection.
“For people who have tested positive for COVID-19, it will be a double shock, with pollution making things worse,” he told PTI.
Doctors warn that even those who have had COVID-19 in the past are not out of the woods.
“Post-COVID fibrosis and immunoparalysis make their lungs more susceptible to superimposed bacterial pneumonia and other viral respiratory diseases. We urge everyone to inoculate with influenza vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine prevent additional infections in these times, “Nischal stressed.
According to Gupta, with the increase in the COVID-19 survivor group, a significant number are noted to be symptomatic – 43 per cent with respiratory complaints – even after two months.
These individuals are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, which is known to cause chronic irritation and inflammation of the airways, affect mucus clearance, impair immunity, and acutely precipitate airway disorders such as asthma, COPD, or pulmonary fibrosis. even cancer-related conditions.
“Indeed, a difficult time is waiting for post-COVID patients,” Gupta added.
Vivek Nangia, chief director and chief of pulmonology, Max Special Hospital in Saket, Delhi, said that individuals belonging to high-risk groups who are at extreme ages and suffering from chronic diseases are advised to stay inside or at least restrict movement their to strip out essential activities.
“While outdoors, wear a mask at all times and stay away from fireworks during Diwali. Useful inhalers and consult a doctor as soon as possible. For others, it is strongly recommended that they minimize their outdoor activities and wear a mask at all. time, “he said.
“The number of cases will increase. There is a study which has been published by the Harvard Medical School, USA, where they have shown that with every increase of 1 micron per meter in PM 2.5 particles, there is an increase of 8 percent of mortality, “he said.
The COVID-19 case load in India rose to 74,94,551 with 61,871 new infections reported overnight, while the number of recoveries increased to 65,97,209 bringing the recovery rate to 88.03 percent, according to data from Ministry of Health updated Sunday morning
The death toll rose to 1,14,031 with the virus taking 1,033 lives over the same period.
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