According to the data shared by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the cases of gastroenteritis known as ‘stomach flu’ saw an increase this year between January to March 13.
The data shows 800 gastroenteritis cases being reported in the city until March 13, of which 245 cases have been reported in January, followed by 343 in February and 212 in the first 13 days of March.
Moreover, the civic body has also reported 371 Malaria cases during the same period (January to March 13). Civic officials and health experts have attributed this surge to the movement of people after lockdown relaxation and there is a chance that these cases might see a rise further as roadside stalls and hotels open up. Considering the surge, the civic body has issued an advisory urging citizens to avoid eating outside or street food.
Gastroenteritis is a form of stomach flu that typically spreads from coming in contact with an infected person or through contaminated food or water. It leads to diarrhoea, cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever.
Dr Purshottam Vashistha, senior consultant, Gastroenterology, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital said that along with gastroenteritis, they have also witnessed a rise in gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD—a condition that causes frequent acid reflux incidences, where the stomach acids flow back to your food pipe, impacting the lining of the oesophagus. Excessive consumption of multiple herbal and non-herbal drugs, during or post-COVID infections has given rise to various gastrointestinal issues—one of which is GERD.
“We have witnessed a significant rise in digestive issues such as acid reflux, during the pandemic in patients with active or post-recovery of COVID infection. In order to prevent gastroenterological problems, one should follow a balanced diet, avoid citrus fruits, coffee and painkillers especially Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)—widely used for pain relief or fever. One should make healthy lifestyle choices, avoid alcohol and smoking, exercise regularly with early dinner and light meals to avoid GERD,” he said.
Dr Mala Kaneria, Consultant Dept. of Infectious Diseases, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre said that cases of gastroenteritis have been on the rise for the past three months. The previous two years saw a decline in cases due to the lockdown and restrictions but now that most of the restrictions have been relaxed, it is not surprising that cases are spiking.
“This could be due to a number of factors such as the resumption of gatherings and functions where food is ordered from outside, opening up of restaurants of all grades, people indulging in street food which they missed during the lockdown. Also, schools have resumed physical classes, so children too are enjoying food from street vendors. With parts of the state witnessing heat stroke, the sale of juices, and street-side fruits too has gone up, contributing to the cases,” she said.
Dr Gautam Bhansali, Consultant General Physician, Bombay Hospital said since the lockdown relaxation, many street food stalls have been opened due to which people have now stopped eating home-made-food following which cases have increased.
“Citizens need to be more cautious while eating outside as the pandemic has not ended completely. Until there is a steep drop in Covid-19 cases, Mumbaikars should avoid eating outside as it will not only cause gastro but chances of contracting coronavirus will also increase,” he said.