Delhi sees increase in respiratory infections post Diwali this year: Doctors

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Rajeev Choudhury

Doctors in Delhi admit that respiratory tract infections (RTI) have increased in 2021 compared to 2020, but the situation has not reached alarming proportions as yet, they felt.

The cases of RTIs have seen a spike post-Diwali this year, however when compared to the long term average, the numbers are not significant, they said.

“There has been an increase in hospitalisation due to respiratory infections this year compared to last year, however, as we know last year because of lockdown the air quality was much better,” Dr Desh Deepak, of Department of Respiratory Medicine in Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital said.

“When compared to the respiratory infections at the onset of winter, compared to 2017 and 2018, the number of incidences of respiratory tract infections look quite similar to that of those years” he added.

“The majority of the patients who needed hospitalisation had a history of COVID infections with residual damage in their lungs,” he informed.

“The people who had severe COVID infection have added to the high-risk group along with immuno-compromised people among chronic lung disease, we are seeing increased hospitalisation of this group and outcome is not very good,” Dr Deepak said.

“The pollution has been rising, and in spite of measures that brought it down at times, we are still breathing very bad air,” he further added.

“The administrative steps that have been taken are not enough, and such steps are never enough, people also need to do their part at the individual level too,” he stressed.

Dr S K Basu, who runs a private clinic in East Delhi said, “There have been more patients of RTI this year, but they conform to long term average trend.”

The city hospitals have recently seen a spike in patients complaining of breathlessness mostly among those who have predisposing conditions like COPD, he admitted.

“The issue of dust pollution in the city is not getting proper attention, but it needs to be addressed urgently,” he added.

A study by IIT Kanpur in 2016 revealed that road dust alone contributes to 56% of the total pollution in the city.

“We need to think about innovative solutions to address the problem of air pollution in the city,” he said.

The habit of mask usage, made compulsory during the pandemic has indeed helped in reducing the risk of respiratory infection, he pointed out.

Though guidelines for reducing dust pollution are in place, the implementation at ground level remains poor the experts say.

There are multiple agencies involved, everybody needs to be get involved, increased awareness will go a long way

“The problem needs to be looked into holistically, taking into consideration the scientific, social, administrative and medical aspects of air pollution,” he informed.

“The situation is dire and require emergency steps, and has to be multipronged effort administrative efforts, along with changing agricultural practices like sowing,” Dr Deepak said.


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