Amid increasing instances of COVID-19 patients also contracting other seasonal diseases with similar symptoms, and the health complications emerging because of diagnostic delay, Health Ministry has issued guidelines for states and medical facilities on management of coronavirus co-infections.
The central government’s Covid co-infection management health advisory states that people can contract coronavirus and other seasonal diseases at the same time and emphasises on need for aggressive testing for early and accurate diagnosis to save lives.
“Given the seasonal pattern of epidemic-prone diseases observed every year in our country, dengue, malaria, seasonal influenza, leptospirosis, chikungunya, enteric fever etc can present diagnostic dilemma and may co-exist in Covid cases. This poses challenges in diagnosis of COVID-19, and have a bearing on clinical management and patient outcomes,” the advisory states.
The viral, vector-borne and bacterial diseases listed by the Health Ministry also have symptoms that can be confused with COVID-19. It thus urges “high index of suspicion” for diseases prevalent in different parts of the country post monsoon.
Tests must be conducted to check for the seasonal disease and COVID-19, both, the guidelines on Covid co-infection states, listing six viral and vector-borne diseases and bacterial infections against the recommended tests.
The Health Ministry also warns against false positive/negative results in case of co-infections and urged states and medical facilities to ensure “adequate stocking” of approved “rapid diagnostic kits for malaria, dengue, scrub typhus in COVID treatment facilities”.
The guidelines have been issued against the backdrop of a decline in coronavirus cases in India with health experts warning people to continue following COVID-19 safety norms ahead of the festival season and winter months, when viral infections rise.
To ensure co-infections do not derail the progress made in checking the spread of the novel coronavirus, some states, including Delhi, had doubled down on fogging to check outbreak of vector-borne diseases after the monsoon.
However, the health ministry has not shared any data on the number of Covid co-infection cases. India has 71.7 lakh cases of coronavirus with more than 1 lakh fatalities.