New Delhi, Feb 4: With general physicians in the UK urging a change in the Covid-19 case definition and test criteria to include common cold, doctors in India said on Thursday that the situation here is now very different, although one should still be watchful despite downwards trend in new novel coronavirus cases in the country.
In an open letter, Alex Sohal, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, supported by 140 east London general practitioners and health care professionals, wrote to the Chief Medical Officer of the UK to include runny nose and cold in Covid-19 test criteria.
“It is vital to now change the UK Covid-19 case definition and test criteria to include coryza and cold, making them consistent with the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Sohal wrote.
“Tell the public, especially those who have to go out to work and their employers, that even those with mild symptoms (not only a cough, high temperature, and a loss of smell or taste) should not go out, prioritising the first five days of self-isolation when they are most likely to be infectious,” she added.
But, as per Indian health experts, the scenario may be different in India.
“This letter does not reflect the current Indian scenario of Covid-19 as it was done in the UK where extremely infectious UK strain is causing an increased number of cases daily,” Jyoti Mutta, Senior Consultant, Microbiology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, told IANS.
“But we still need to watch our symptoms carefully. In case you experience or develop any flu like symptoms associated with Covid-19, it is best to get tested immediately and self-isolate,” Mutta added.
According to Shiba Kalyan Biswal, Consultant, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Narayana Hospital, Gurugram, common cold, running nose and sore throat etc are very common in this current weather.
“Although the possibility of Covid-19 cannot be denied as per the symptoms, but as far as the common cold, running nose, sore throat etc are concerned, these are overlapping symptoms which may be the signs of any major disease or just a minor infection,” Biswal said.
In the letter, published by The British Medical Journal, Sohal wrote that as general practitioners, they review patients with mild symptoms — for example, a runny or blocked nose, sore throat, hoarseness, myalgia, fatigue, and headache — who subsequently turn out to be Covid-19 positive.
“These symptoms are often inadvertently picked up while dealing with patients’ other more pressing health issues. These patients have frequently not even considered that they may have Covid-19 and have not self-isolated in the crucial early days when they were most infectious,” Sohal said.
“The national publicity campaign focuses on cough, high temperature, and loss of smell or taste as symptoms to be aware of — only patients with these symptoms are able to access a Covid-19 test online through the NHS (National Health Service) test booking site. General practitioners have to advise patients to be dishonest to get a Covid-19 test,” she added.
Sohal also highlighted that the WHO’s case definition of Covid includes other symptoms such as coryza, sore throat, vomiting, and diarrhoea, while NHS guidance states that patients should keep self-isolating for more than ten days if they have a runny nose or sneezing.
In India, the total active caseload for Covid-19 in the country dropped to 1.55 lakh on Thursday. India’s present active cases now consist of just 1.44 per cent of the total positive cases.