Screen Covid patients for TB & vice versa: Centre to states | India News


NEW DELHI:The health ministry reiterated its recommendations on tuberculosis screening for all Covid-19 positive patients and vice versa amid reports of a surge in TB cases amid the pandemic. However, the government clarified that there is not enough evidence to suggest that there has been an increase in TB cases due to Covid-19.
States and UTs have also been asked for convergence in efforts for better surveillance and case finding of TB and Covid-19.
Besides, the Centre had already issued multiple advisories and guidance emphasising on the need for bi-directional screening of TBCOVID and TB-ILI/SARI, the government said.
“Due to the impact of Covid-19 related restrictions, case notifications for TB had decreased by about 25% in 2020 but special efforts are being made to mitigate this impact through intensified case finding in OPD settings as well as through active case finding campaigns in the community by all states,” the government said.
Moreover, there is not enough evidence currently to suggest that there has been an increase in TB cases due to Covid-19 or due to increased case finding efforts, it added.
Highlighting the dual morbidity of Tuberculosis (TB) and Covid-19, the health ministry said both the diseases are known to be infectious and primarily attack the lungs, presenting similar symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty in breathing. However, TB has a longer incubation period and a slower onset of disease, it said.
In a warning against post Covid diseases such as black fungus, the ministry said SARS-CoV-2 infection could make an individual more susceptible to developing TB disease, as TB is an opportunistic infection like black fungus.
Drawing parallels between decreased immunity in both tuberculosis and Covid-19 patients, the ministry said TB bacilli can be present in humans in a dormant state and has the potential to start multiplying when the individual’s immunity is compromised for any reason. The same is applicable in the post-Covid scenario, when an individual may develop decreased immunity due to the virus itself or due to the treatment, especially immune-suppressants like steroids.





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