TB patients to be tested for coronavirus, said Health ministry

The Ministry of Health has now issued a guidance for coronavirus stating that the screening will be done for all TB patients and Tuberculosis screening will also be done for all the coronavirus infected patients.

“Tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease… In addition, TB patients also tend to have co-morbid or living conditions (malnutrition, diabetes, smoking, HIV etc) that increase their vulnerability,” stated the guidance note.

The guidance by Health Ministry stated that, the prevalence of TB among coronavirus infected patients has been found to be 0.37 – 4.47 % in different studies. “There has been an overall decline in tuberculosis notification by 26% during January to June 2020 as compared to the previous year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

While Bi-directional Tuberculosis -COVID screening has been suggested in the guidance note to address dual morbidity of TB and Coronaviurs, tuberculosis analysis of all Influenza-like Illness and Severe Acute Respiratory Infection cases has also been advised.

The guidance stated that both TB and coronavirus are infectious diseases which primarily attack the lungs. “They present with similar symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty breathing, although TB disease has a longer incubation period and a slower onset of disease,” it also added.

For coronavirus screening, the ministry has advised that all newly diagnosed Tuberculosis patients or those at present on treatment should be tested for coronavirus. “Based on the result of COVID-19 test, further management would be undertaken as per MoHFW guidelines. Even upon diagnosis of COVID, treatment of TB should continue uninterrupted,” added the note.


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