Covid-19 measures lead to dip in seasonal ailments in Mumbai

As per data from the BMC, a total of 8,020 people have been diagnosed with malaria, dengue, leptospirosis, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and swine flu this year
Covid-19 screening and swab testing of the passengers at Dadar station.(Pratik Chorge/HT)
Covid-19 screening and swab testing of the passengers at Dadar station.(Pratik Chorge/HT)
Updated on Dec 29, 2020 12:16 AM IST
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ByRupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai

Cases of monsoon-related illnesses and swine flu have dropped by over 50% this year compared to 2019, according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Officials attribute the dip to restricted movement during the lockdown and preventive measures taken by the civic body.

As per data from the BMC, a total of 8,020 people have been diagnosed with malaria, dengue, leptospirosis, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and swine flu this year (till December 20) in the city. In 2019, there were 15,328 cases of these seasonal ailments.

Till December 20, the city has recorded 237 cases of leptospirosis; 128 cases of dengue; 2,478 cases of gastroenteritis; and 259 cases of hepatitis. Last year, there were 281 cases of leptospirosis; 920 cases of dengue; 7,785 cases of gastroenteritis; and 1,534 cases of hepatitis. There has been a dramatic fall in swine flu incidence in the city, with 44 cases this year till December 20 compared to 451 last year.

Civic officials from the health department said the marked drop in numbers may be due to people remaining indoors due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“People didn’t step out much because of lockdown restrictions, which has helped to control the risk of exposing them to potential mosquito breeding sites,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.

The civic body also said it carried out extensive sanitisation and fumigation drives across the city, which also contributed to containing vector breeding. Many vector-borne diseases share symptoms similar to Covid-19 and consequently, doctors said it was fortunate that measures to contain the pandemic helped to tackle these other illnesses.

“The Covid-19 preventive measures were initiated in March when the first case was reported. This included extensive disinfection work which was done in public places. Mosquito breeding grounds were also targeted. Last year, we had destroyed around 53,000 mosquito breeding grounds. But this year, we have destroyed over 62,000 breeding grounds,” said Dr Mangla Gomare, executive health officer, BMC.

Another factor may be the adoption of better hygiene habits such as frequent washing of hands, use of sanitisers and eating home-cooked food, said city doctors.

“Every monsoon, we get hundreds of people with gastroenteritis and hepatitis. Most of these are related to the consumption of contaminated water and outside food. But now, even with the relaxation of the lockdown, people are avoiding outside food,” said Mumbai-based epidemiologist, Dr Om Srivastava.

The one cause of concern remains the number of malaria cases, which saw an increase compared to last year. Till December 20, the city had recorded 4,874 malaria cases while last year, there were 4,357 cases of malaria.

“We are looking into the matter to understand the reason behind the growth of malaria cases,” said Kakani.

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