COVID Tests For All TB Patients and Visa Versa: Health Ministry
The Health Ministry on Wednesday said that Tuberculosis is linked to a 2.1-fold risk a severe COVID-19 infection. The ministry has now recommended that all newly-diagnosed tuberculosis patients or those currently on treatment should be tested for COVID-19 and vice versa.
Research has found that the prevalence of tuberculosis among patients of COVID-19 lies at 0.37 per cent or 4.47 per cent, as per two different studies.
The Health Ministry also indicated that there has been an overall decline in the notification of tuberculosis because of the coronavirus pandemic. The notification rate has fallen by 26 per cent during January to June, as compared to the previous year.
In its “Guidance note on Bi-directional TB-COVID screening and screening of TB among ILI/SARI cases” issued on Wednesday, the ministry has said that research has shown that a history of active as well as latent tuberculosis is an important risk factor for the COVID-19 infection.
“This not only results in increased susceptibility, but also rapid and severe symptom development and disease progression with poor outcomes. Tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease.”Health Ministry Guideline
Patients of tuberculosis also tend to have comorbidities or living conditions such as malnutrition, diabetes, smoking habit, HIV etc. that increase their vulnerability to diseases.
In order to tackle this dual morbidity of tuberculosis and COVID-19, Bi-directional TB-COVID screening, TB screening for influenza-like illness (ILI) cases and TB screening for severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) cases should be carried out, directed the ministry.
Under Bi-directional TB-COVID screening, COVID screening for all patients diagnosed with TB, and TB screening for all COVID-positive patients will be conducted.
Tuberculosis and SARS-CoV-2 are both highly infectious diseases which essentially attack the lungs. Symptoms such as cough, fever and difficulty in breathing are also common to both. However, tuberculosis has a longer incubation period and a slower onset of disease, said the ministry document.
(With inputs from Financial Express)
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