COVID-19 infections wane but no respite from ILI, SARI cases

As many as 35,255 cases of ILI/SARI (non-COVID-19) have been reported in Bengaluru since this May.   | Photo Credit: file photo

Although the number of COVID-19 cases are waning, there is no respite from Influenza-like Illnesses (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses (SARI).

As many as 35,255 cases of ILI/SARI (non-COVID-19) have been reported in the city since this May, when the second wave started subsiding, till October 17.

Contrary to the trend seen last year when ILI/SARI was predominantly seen among senior citizens, people in the 30-45 years age group have been the worst hit in the city this year.

According to Public Health Activities, Surveillance and Tracking (PHAST) data from the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) portal, 10,653 persons in the 30-45 age group have reported ILI/SARI, the highest.

The next highest, 7,979 cases, were reported in the 18-30 years age group.

Hospitals to report

In April last year, the State Health and Family Welfare department had directed all private medical establishments to notify establishment of fever clinics to district health authorities under KPME Act, 2OO7. The private hospitals were also directed to report all ILI/SARI cases and also enter them on the KPME portal. However, not all hospitals are reporting such cases currently.

While 233 private medical establishments reported a total of 16,585 ILI/SARI cases in May, only 151 hospitals continued to report in June recording 4,958 cases. While 114 hospitals reported 3,951 cases in July, 118 hospitals reported 3,947 cases in August. The number of hospitals reporting ILI/SARI further reduced to 96 in September when 4,070 cases were recorded. In October (till 17th), 68 health facilities reported 1,744 cases.

Admitting that the ILI/SARI cases may be even more than those officially recorded, State Health Commissioner D. Randeep said although 35,255 ILI/SARI cases have been reported in the city not all of them progressed into COVID. “Doctors reporting these cases clinically suspected COVID-19 in as many as 9,579 cases and they were treated as per COVID-19 protocols,” he said.

“Although COVID-19 cases are waning, we are continuing to record ILI/SARI cases as we want to keep a track on other respiratory diseases too,” the Commissioner said.

C/ Nagaraja, director of the State-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD), said ILI/SARI are usually high during September-October. “This was the trend even during pre-COVID-19 days. Even during May-June we have seen a lot of cases due to dust, especially among children,” he said.

“During the second wave peak, 90% of all ILI/SARI cases treated in our institute developed COVID-19. But now, although we are seeing over 50 such cases, hardly 5% are testing positive for COVID-19,” he said.

Arundathi Chandrashekar, State Mission Director, National Health Mission, said a direction will again be issued to all hospitals to report all ILI/SARI cases. “Although ILI/SARI are not emerging infections, it is essential that we continue surveillance of respiratory illness for future planning,” she said.

Admitting that not all hospitals are reporting ILI/SARI cases, H.M. Prasanna, president of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes’ Association (PHANA), said this is because the State has not made reporting mandatory.

Updating issues

“Moreover, with COVID-19 cases waning, now hospitals are busy with non-COVID-19 services. Staff at the hospitals, who are already fatigued due to the pandemic, are finding it tedious to update details on various portals. Hence, they may be leaving out those that are optional. If it is mandatory, all will report,” he said.

Bengaluru Urban District Health Officer (DHO) G.A. Srinivas said hospitals have been asked to compulsorily report all fever cases. “Fever and respiratory infections are on the rise. As many as 1,419 ILI and two SARI cases have been reported in the last 10 days in Bengaluru Urban district,” he added.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 2:46:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/covid-19-infections-wane-but-no-respite-from-ili-sari-cases/article37099949.ece

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