Number of long-Covid cases post 2nd wave 4 times figures reported last yr at Apollo

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (PTI) The number of cases of long-term COVID-19 reported at a leading private facility here in the wake of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic is four times the corresponding figures recorded last year, hospital authorities said on Friday.

Long Covid is a condition where people who have recovered from the infection are still exhibiting symptoms far longer than usually expected.

Delhi had been reeling under a brutal second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping the country, claiming a massive number of lives daily, with the recent oxygen supply shortage issue at various hospitals, adding to the woes. The worst phase was the months of April and May.

The number of cases reported for long-Covid and post-complications after the second wave of the pandemic in the country at Apollo hospital here has been 'four times' than the figures reported last year, a spokesperson of the hospital said.

Since April 19, both daily cases and single-day deaths count had been spiralling up, with over 28,000 cases and 277 deaths recorded on April 20; rising to 306 fatalities on April 22. On May 3, the city registered a record 448 deaths, according to official data.

Though the metrics have fallen in the last several days, experts have cautioned of the imminent threat of a third wave.

The second Covid wave was much more infectious in comparison to the first wave. The variant of concern was different this time with newer symptoms, like high grade fever, diarrhoea, severe lung infection, followed by long Covid syndrome and post-Covid complications, like falling oxygen levels and lung fibrosis that manifested even after eight weeks or more of testing positive, the hospital authorities said.

Larger number of people were admitted with long-Covid syndromes, post-Covid complications after 20-30 days of testing positive, they said.

Known as 'long haul Covid cases', these patients continue to experience symptoms of the disease, four weeks post the initial recovery. As post-Covid complications, many patients are being reported with problems like breathlessness, prolonged weakness, extreme fatigue, doctors said Recurrent headaches and fever (post the suppression of initial fever during the time of the infection), lung fibrosis, an increased pulse rate, various gastrointestinal issues and some uncommon complications like erectile dysfunction, hair loss and menstrual disturbances in women have also been reported, they said.

Being immunocompromised, some patients are also suffering severe post-Covid complications like mucormycosis and secondary infections. Recovery for such patients is taking an extended time than expected, a senior doctor said.

'After the second wave in the country, we have had a large number of patients coming in with moderate to severe complications even after eight weeks of testing positive. The reason for it can be a low-grade cytokine reaction or any type of immune dysregulation that is going on in the body, and which the body hasn't been able to handle,' said Dr M S Kanwar, lead lung transplant and Covid team, senior consultant, department of pulmonology, critical care and sleep medicine, at the hospital.

This number is extremely high compared to what 'we had observed last year,' he said.

'The high mortality apart from the morbidity which has lingered on for months in countless patients is another cause of concern. The behaviour of any virus depends on the protein structure of its every mutant or variant. The protein structure decides the way in which the virus would react towards investigations, diagnosis process, its treatment and vaccination,' the doctor said.

Also, post-Covid complications like chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgia are being reported four times in women than in men. Whereas, complications like lung fibrosis are found to be more severe in men, the hospital authorities said.

The single most common post-Covid symptom after patients become RT-PCR negative is weakness, which leads to tiredness and fatigue and makes it difficult for people to re-focus and feel their normal selves even after five to six months of their testing negative, doctors said.

Hence, to manage and monitor such cases, it is highly advisable to take preventive health check-ups, eat a nutritious diet, monitor blood pressure and sugar levels, do breathing exercises, not administer unnecessary medicine and keeping in constant touch with a doctor, they said.

The number of cumulative COVID-19 cases on Thursday stood at 14,35,353. Over 14 lakh patients have recovered from the virus in Delhi, according to official data. PTI KND KJ KJ

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