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Disease burden may 'increase drastically if COVID-19, air pollution get combined'

AIIM director in a statement said that Delhi is facing a double whammy of air pollution and COVID-19 as a virus can survive for a long time in pollution, which can cause more severe diseases.

There is an urgent need to look for sustainable solutions and be more aggressive towards controlling air pollution, more so with the COVID-19 pandemic being around, as it can lead to a huge burden of diseases if both get combined, said AIIMS director.

There is definitely an ongoing wave, especially in many parts of India, and air pollution is making it worse, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria said at ASSOCHAM webinar on 'COVID-19-Coming of the Second Wave: Myth or Reality', according to a statement by the industry body.

"So, we need to act on multiple fronts to get hold as far as this pandemic is concerned," he said.

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Delhi is facing a double whammy of air pollution and COVID-19

He said that Delhi is facing a double whammy of air pollution and COVID-19 as a virus can survive for a long time in pollution, which can cause more severe diseases.

Speaking to the media, Guleria said that there is no doubt that we are having a second wave but possibly multiple waves in different parts of the country as the number of cases increases.

He added, "In our hospital, we had created a facility with almost 1,500 beds for COVID patients, we had during June-July almost 900 patients admitted at a given point in time, it came down to about 200, but now again it is rising, and we have more than 500 COVID patients".

The All India Institute Of Medical Sciences director also said that since the 'unlock' has happened, the load on the hospital has increased significantly as now it is facing a huge burden as the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing which is causing a huge strain on healthcare facilities.

Three major reasons for the rise in COVID-19 cases

He outlined three major reasons for the rise in COVID-19 cases - COVID fatigue and lack of COVID-appropriate behaviour as people are not following social distancing or wearing masks; respiratory viruses peak during winter months and Delhi's poor air quality leading to rising in air pollution.

Guleria said there is data suggesting that mortality during air pollution continues to be high, the statement said.

Guleria stressed that a statistic based on the emergency admissions in the hospital over the years has stated that whenever the air quality index worsened there was an increase in admissions both in children and adults for respiratory diseases in the next 5-6 days.

"This is being shown for the last 2-3 years, now with air pollution and COVID-19 this is going to become a huge burden," he was quoted as saying in the statement.

Guleria also said that during this time of year there is an increase in allergic disorders like sneezing, running nose and a large number of cases of flu, therefore it becomes challenging in differentiating between upper respiratory manifestations.

He further urged that the individuals who have an influenza-like illness like fever, sore throat, headache, body ache, the cough should at least get themselves tested for COVID-19.

Total confirmed cases in India have risen above 86 lakh. There are 4,94,657 active cases in the country

Today is the 233rd day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic. So far, India has recorded 86,36,012 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 1,27,571 deaths. A total of 80,13,784 people have recuperated from COVID-19 so far. There are 4,94,657 active cases in the country as of date, which comprises 5.73 percent of the total caseload, the data stated. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases. However, infections are rising rapidly in states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Yet, India's recovery rate continues to rise and now stands at 92.79 percent. 'Unlock 5.0' is underway. Globally, more than 5.1 crore people have been infected by the coronavirus and 12.71 lakh have died so far.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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