A slow but steady increase in the number of fever cases across the State prompted the Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) Government to conduct a survey to know if the situation warrants an alarm due to the word going around that the emerging viruses could be a manifestation of Coronavirus. The Medical & Health Department (M&HD) instructed all hospitals to keep a close watch on respiratory disease outpatients in view of the likelihood of their infection by a new strain of the Coronavirus or some other pathogens.
Commissioner of Health J. Nivas told The Hinduthat nasal samples are being tested to detect Covid whereas Influenza-A is self-limiting, hence there is no need to test all showing similar symptoms. However, the cause of respiratory illnesses is being looked into as a precaution. He said there was no need at all to panic as there has been no sudden increase in the fever cases and for now, it was a general caution that was sounded.
But, the M&HD is taking the cases seriously in compliance with instructions issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (UMoH&FW) following the rising trend (since December, 2022) of what have been categorised as Influenza Like Illnesses (ILIs) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses (ILIS/SARIS) that brought back the fear of a resurgence of the dreaded Covid in the wake of a gradual increase in Covid test positivity rate in some States.
The UMoH&FW pointed out that the existing weather conditions and behavioural reasons (inadequate attention to personal hygiene, sneezing and coughing without adequate protection in close proximity of other people, closed indoor gatherings of people etc.) made the environment conducive for the circulation of a number of viral respiratory pathogens like Influenza A (H1N1, H3N2 etc.).
The AP Government took note of the fact that the upswing in influenza cases cannot be just wished away as caused by seasonal viruses that portend no danger. Accordingly, it is getting details of fever cases collected from the households in order to evolve a strategy to tackle the menace if it becomes serious as young children, the old aged and people suffering from comorbidities are considered to be particularly vulnerable to the viral fevers.
The UMoH&FW issued technical guidelines on how to deal with ILIs and SARIS while stressing on the need for States to spread awareness about adherence to respiratory and hand hygiene. In line with that, the AP Government is taking stock of the preparedness of hospitals including the availability of drugs, oxygen and equipment and is focusing on vaccination coverage against the influenza and Covid.