New Delhi, April 18: As India is witnessing the second wave of Covid-19, many young people are testing positive for the viral disease as compared to older people and are reporting symptoms different than what were common when the infection initially began spreading, an expert from a Delhi-based diagnostic lab told news agency ANI on Sunday.
“A lot of young people are testing Covid positive as compared to old people. Symptoms are different this time. Many are complaining of dry mouth, gastrointestinal issues, nausea, loose tools, red eyes, and headache. Everyone doesn’t complain of fever,” Dr Gauri Agarwal, founder-director, Genestrings Diagnostic Centre, was quoted as saying by the agency.
Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently said that 65 per cent of new patients are below the age of 45.
“We are also seeing children under the ages of 12 and 15 being admitted with symptoms in the second wave. Last year there were practically no children,” Khusrav Bajan, a consultant at Mumbai’s PD Hinduja National Hospital and a member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 taskforce, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Experts, however, say that more data is needed to back up the anecdotal evidence in India, with genome sequencing of samples playing a key role.
“Sequencing will tell you about the mutant that’s emerging,” said virologist Shahid Jameel. But it doesn’t take away from everything else that you should be doing – that is to wear a mask and avoid crowded places.”
The remarks come on a day when India logged over two lakh Covid-19 cases for the fourth consecutive day with which the total infection tally went up to 14.78 million. Another doctor cited by news agency ANI, Dr Shyam Agrawal of Delhi’s Sir Gangaram Hospital, said that according to a study of the molecular basis, 60% of strain is “double mutant” which is extremely dangerous. While several states have imposed weekend and night curfews, he suggested that only a long period of lockdown can break the chain of transmission of the virus.
In line with the Centre’s call for massive testing, Dr Gauri Agarwal told ANI that testing has gone up but the testing labs are facing several challenges including calls for home collection of samples and the timely updating of data. “There’s a massive surge in calls for home collection which is difficult to handle. There’s no problem with infrastructure/machines. The problem lies with the government-mandated rule to do ICMR entry within 24 hours,” the Genestrings Diagnostic Centre’s chief said.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting with top officials in which he stressed that there is no substitute for testing, tracking and treatment. Early testing and proper tracking remain key to reduce mortality, his office said in a statement.
As PM Modi discussed the status of medicines, oxygen supply, ventilators and vaccination, he assured, “India had defeated Covid last year and India can do it again, with the same principles but faster speed and coordination.” (Agencies)