All tuberculosis patients to be screened for COVID-19

Studies show up to 4.47% of COVID-19 patients have prevalence of tuberculosis  

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 27 August 2020
All tuberculosis patients to be screened for COVID-19. Photo: Flickr

Tuberculosis (TB) patients will be screened for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and those suffering from COVID-19 will likewise be screened for TB, according to new guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

Those who have influenza-like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infections (SARI), both of which have symptoms similar to TB and COVID-19, shall also be screened for TB, according to the guidelines.

The guidelines in the wake of declining reportage of TB cases in the country, ever since COVID-19 was notified. “There has been an overall decline in TB notification by 26 per cent during January-June 2020, as compared to the previous year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the guidelines said. 

Various research studies have indicated significant prevalence of TB among COVID-19 patients. The prevalence of TB among COVID-19 patients ranges between 0.37-4.47 per cent, studies have shown.

The MoHFW guidelines have quoted unnamed studies that found “that history of active as well as latent TB is an important risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection”. Tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease, the guidelines document said.

For TB patients who are found COVID-19 positive, the treatment for both would be taken up. Similarly, COVID-19 patients screened for TB would undergo the same treatment for both.

The MoHFW has also asked governments to link facilities for TB and COVID-19 for better management of patients with both infections. 

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