After being cooped up for months due to the coronavirus lockdown, many Tuberculosis (TB) patients have finally started visiting the TB Hospital, Sewri again for diagnosis and treatment. The footfall of patients at the TB hospital is almost the same as it was before Covid. Currently, the number of patients has increased by 10 per cent since May. However, doctors have cautioned that the next few months will be crucial to gauge the adverse effect of late diagnosis and treatment of suspected TB patients due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the data provided from the hospital, before Covid-19, every month the hospital receives over 1,400 patients in their OPD. However, from April, the numbers started dwindling drastically.
In February, 1,405 patients visited the OPD of the TB hospital for consultation. The figure reduced to 1,235 in March and 996 in April. With the gradual spread of the virus, the numbers gradually plunged to 749, 708, 879 and 688 respectively in May, June, July and August. However, after the lockdown was relaxed last month, for the first time since May, around 979 patients visited the TB hospital.
Dr Lalit Anande, medical superintendent, TB hospital, Sewri said the number of admissions at the hospital has increased by 51 per cent since April. In April, 196 patients were admitted. The figure is up to 296 in September. “Since the relaxation has started the number of patients have increased as the mode of public transportation has increased. Also, as the cases of Covid-19 cases have come under control, the fear of transmission has decreased among people,” he said.
Along with public hospitals, private hospitals have started witnessing a spike in the number of TB patients. “People know that the infection is there to stay among us longer. There is no point waiting longer for the virus to die off. So, people have started coming to hospitals for their diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr Yasin Dholakia, secretary, the Maharashtra State Anti-Tuberculosis Association.
When TB patients don’t take their medicines regularly, they can develop multiple-drug resistance TB where the chances of mortality are higher. Also, if a person gets delayed in diagnosis, it can not only lead to his death but also, infect other people around the patient.