Air pollution, winters can spike Covid cases: Docs

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 Rohit Shishodia
Doctors have cautioned that the upcoming winters and air pollution can cause an increase in Covid cases as both suit respiratory illnesses.

Delhi-AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria has cautioned that any rise in PM 2.5 and winters can increase cases of coronavirus. Speaking to the media on October 9, 2020, Dr Guleria said that any minor increase in PM 2.5 can increase cases of Covid by 8 to 9%.

He informed that data from China and Italy indicated that rise in PM 2.5 has resulted in Covid cases going up by 8%-9%.

Dr Guleria pointed out, “Air pollution can cause inflammation in lungs and Covid too impacts the lungs. It is possible that wherever level of air pollution is high, spike in Covid cases is also possible. Therefore, everyone needs to follow Covid protocol.”

Dr Guleria further explained, “We are habitual to staying home in winters and due to presence of more number of people there, the chances of infection get higher. Respiratory infection spreads easily in winters due to which a rise in Covid is possible.”

He informed that surveillance data on infection shows that influenza like diseases surge in monsoon and winters. Covid is also a respiratory viral infection and behaves like influenza. Wearing a mask, physical distancing and hand hygiene can contain the virus by 30 to 40% in winters, he said.

Dr Jugal Kishore, Director-Head, Department of Community Medicine, Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, said, “Spike in Covid because of winters and air pollution is because the respiratory illness and flu are common occurrence in winter season, as most believe, and air pollution increases during this period. This may not be due to pollution but people live close to each other in winters and expose communicable respiratory diseases to one another.”


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