Doctors caution against Covid-19 spread during monsoonUpdated: Jul 05, 2020 00:26 IST
Medical experts have advised citizens to be vigilant during the monsoon, which brings with it ailments like seasonal influenza whose symptoms are similar to those of Covid-19.
Health experts said three parameters govern the how a virus spreads — seasonal change, nature of the virus and patterns of human behaviour. With the onset of the monsoon, doctors in the city are keeping a close watch on how the Sars-Cov-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, may be impacted by changes in climate and weather.
“As the virus is new, we lack knowledge on how it will react to the monsoon. We don’t know if humid temperatures will provide a more suitable environment for the virus to thrive, like in the case of swine flu or seasonal influenza,” said Dr Lancelot Pinto, epidemiologist at Hinduja Hospital.
A recent study by professors Amit Agarwal and Rajneesh Bharadwaj of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), published in the American Institute of Physics, suggested humid weather may promote the infection.
“When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the droplets sit on the surface. In dry weather, these droplets dry faster. But in humid temperature, it takes longer which further increases the chances of the spread of the virus,” said Bharadwaj.
However, Dr Randeep Guleria, pulmonologist and director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said, “Without more research, it will be unscientific to make any such comments.”
Experts also warned against self-medication, even in case of seasonal ailments. “If a person has Covid-19, taking fever suppressants will delay treatment. So far, people have been very vigilant and approaching hospitals with the onset of any symptoms. I request people to do the same even in the monsoon,” said Dr Om Shrivastava, part of the state Covid-19 task force.
Civic officials said that the virus’ spread may be curbed by the rain, which will force people to stay indoors. “Rain will restrict people’s movement. It will also curb spitting on the roads which often exposes the surrounding public to the virus,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
In July last year, 8,921 people were treated for fever and 123 cases of swine flu (highest in 2019), according to BMC’s data. City doctors are worried that it may be difficult to distinguish the symptoms of these ailments from those of Covid-19. “They all have common symptoms, like fever, cold, cough, rashes. It will be tough to differentiate them,” said
Dr Ramesh Bharmal, in-charge of Lokmanya Tilak General Hospital, Sion.