11 Oct 2020: Coronavirus: Winter and pollution can cause spike, says AIIMS Director
Dr. Guleria also said that the downward trend needs to continue for at least two weeks to conclusively state that India is past its COVID-19 peak.
Here's more on what he said.
Outbreak: India crosses 7-million spike; over 1.08 lakh dead
The total cases include 8,67,496 active cases, while 60,77,976 patients have recovered. The death toll has climbed to 1,08,334 with 918 fresh fatalities.
India is notably the second worst-hit country in the world after the United States.
Trend: 'Downward trend satisfying; sustaining it biggest challenge'
Speaking to NDTV, Dr. Guleria said that the recent downward trend is "satisfying," however, he added that sustaining it is the "biggest challenge."
"It's very satisfying that we have been able to decrease the number of cases, despite the fact that we have been doing more and more testing."
He suggested aggressively adopting COVID-appropriate behaviors, such as physical distancing, and focus on hotspots.
Caution: Festive season, winter months could worsen outbreak
Further, Dr. Guleria warned about the upcoming festive season and the winter months, which could worsen the situation.
During the festive season, people tend to start crowding, Dr. Guleria noted, while several respiratory viruses tend to have a spike in the winter months around the world.
During winters, people also tend to stay indoors without proper ventilation to keep themselves warm.
Fact: Standing in sun wouldn't kill virus: Dr. Guleria
When asked if sun exposure can help offer protection against the virus, Dr. Guleria said, "Sunlight or ultraviolet radiation gives protection in terms of the virus dying more quickly, but standing in the sun doesn't really kill the virus."
Pollution: 'Air pollution will also lead to increased infections'
"Air pollution will also lead to an increase in the number of cases," Dr. Guleria said while responding to a query about air pollution in Delhi.
Citing two foreign studies, he said a one-point increase in PM2.5 can lead to a 6-9% rise in the number of coronavirus infections.
"Winter and air pollution combined can lead to a spike," he said.
Doctors: Most doctor deaths occurred in non-COVID hospitals: Dr. Guleria
Dr. Guleria also said that we "cannot comprise" on the protection of healthcare workers.
He spoke about extending psychosocial support to the workers, who have been on the frontlines of the fight against the outbreak.
Responding to a query about the deaths of at least 515 doctors due to COVID-19, he said most deaths occurred in non-COVID hospitals, where unsuspecting doctors may contract COVID-19.
Fact: Assume everyone is COVID-positive: Dr. Guleria to healthcare workers
"That is why I tell all healthcare workers in my hospital that assume everyone is positive," he said, "Wear your masks, wear your shields, wear your gowns, as though every patient you're seeing could be a potential COVID-positive case."