While the authorities have battled to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases and the death rate in Mumbai, the city is now also grappling with malaria. There has been a 56 per cent rise in the number of cases which is comparatively much more than the cases reported in June. There were 357 malaria cases in June which has now increased to 557 until July 25. Meanwhile, other monsoon ailments have also increased by 20 to 30 per cent.
Doctors believe that the numbers are still low as the citizens have taken all necessary precautions during the ongoing pandemic. Else, it would have further delayed diagnosis due to the similar symptoms displayed between Covid-19 and seasonal infections. However, the civic body is investigating the matter to know the exact reason for the increase in cases.
Dr Mangala Gomare, executive health official said community awareness with information, education and communication (IEC) on the symptoms was organised across civic wards. Moreover, activities like daily disease surveillance, early diagnosis and treatment, implementation of immediate control measures.
“We have instructed all the hospitals, dispensaries and health posts to increase blood smear examination for all suspect cases. Along with this they have also been asked to conduct rapid antigen tests in high risk areas or high risk transmission zones to rule out possibilities of Covid-19 and administer radical treatment to those found positive,” said Dr Gomare.
In addition to malaria, 221 gastroenteritis cases, followed by 29 leptospirosis cases, 19 dengue, 34 hepatitis, and six H1N1 cases have been recorded until July 25.
Senior doctor from a civic run hospital said, “In my opinion, Covid is mostly coincidental. Also, malaria is caused by a parasite that attacks blood cells, whereas Covid is a viral infection and affects respiratory and endothelial cells. They really have no scientific reason for co-existence.”
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC, said that since the virus outbreak, they have been on their toes to curb other illnesses, which have always taken a toll on Mumbaikars’ health. They have been taking preventive measures and have created awareness amongst the citizens about water-borne diseases and have asked them to take extra precautions.
“Though we had started the preparation for water-borne diseases late, we can keep it under control. All efforts taken by the health and insecticide department have yielded good results. On a larger scale, we carried our sanitation and fumigation work. We also oiled the stagnant water to destroy the breeding ground of the mosquitoes,” he said.
Dr Rahul Tambe, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine said, there has been a spike in monsoon diseases, especially malaria, in Mumbai. Although malaria cases are a cyclic phenomenon, malaria shares some of the highly recognizable symptoms with Covid 19 such as fever, headache, breathlessness etc. “The definitive way is to correctly identify the underlying infection, hence it is important that proper diagnosis is done for Covid 19 patients as well as a malaria patient immediately upon arrival. People are advised to take all precautions and report symptoms as soon as they occur and not delay treatment,” he said.
Monsoon cases from July 1-25)
Monsoon cases (June 1-30)