Fewer cases of gastroenteritis and hepatitis in Mumbai due to Covid-19 lockdownUpdated: Oct 16, 2020, 23:56 IST
For the first time in seven years, the number of gastroenteritis cases recorded in the city in September is less than 40. Absence of street vendors during the lockdown has resulted in a drastic reduction in reported cases of monsoon ailments associated with the stomach and liver, like gastroenteritis and hepatitis.
Every year during the monsoon, hospitals in the city witnessed a spike in the number of patients coming in with stomach flu or gastroenteritis and hepatitis. With roadside food stalls prohibited during the lockdown and fewer Mumbaiites venturing out of their homes for fear of contracting Covid-19, there has been a sharp drop in cases of these ailments. Data shared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed there were only 31 gastroenteritis cases in September, compared to 368 cases in September 2019. Similarly, there were three cases of hepatitis in September, compared to 70 reported in September 2019.
Gastroenteritis and hepatitis A or E are caused by contaminated water or food. Symptoms take three to six weeks to show. Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of BYL Nair Hospital, said, “Every year, during monsoon we get the highest number of patients with gastroenteritis and hepatitis. This year, we had expected fewer patients due to the lockdown. But this year, the flow of patients has gone down by almost 80%. Roadside food stalls are the primary source of infection. Due to the pandemic, those have been closed down, which has helped to control the cases.”
Doctors said hepatitis A and E can also spread due to improper hygiene, especially if uncooked food — like fruits and vegetables — are washed with contaminated water. With everyone taking precautions to curb the spread of Covid-19, the risk of contaminated water has also diminished. “Since the pandemic, people have been drinking boiled water and washing their hands regularly. This has helped curb the cases of monsoon related infections,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician, Bombay Hospital.