Poor AQI in Patna: OPDs fill up with chest infections, breathlessness

City’s air quality index was 231 on November 17, 2021

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Thursday 18 November 2021

The number of people visiting hospitals with acute respiratory illness has increased in Patna recently due to worsening air pollution recently. Most of them have been complaining of breathlessness, uneasiness in the chest or suspected chest infection.

Overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city was recorded at 231 on November 17, 2021, according to the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB). This is an indicator of poor air and pollution, which is likely to increase due to climatic factors.

Every day, 20-25 patients are visiting the outpatient department, said Dr Manish Shankar, associate professor, chest department, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Science. “Of them, at least five have falling oxygen levels similar to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and have to be admitted.”

"It is difficult to breathe easily and we are facing breathing problems due to air pollution. But people like me who spend most of the time on the road have to live with it," Jogendar Paswan, a street vendor near the busy IT golumbar, said.

Air pollution is increasing by the year in Patna, said local businessman Rajesh Singh. This time, the air quality dipped in the city early in winter, he added. “The government should take measures to deal with it.”

Patients coming in with respiratory illness and chest infection in increasing numbers since last week are also displaying symptoms similar to COVID-19 such as breathlessness and weakness, Shankar said. “But they tested negative for COVID-19.”

Increasing air pollution in winter is particularly harmful for people who recently recovered from COVID-10, smokers and asthma patients. “There is no doubt that air pollution is dangerous to lungs like COVID-19.”

The symptoms also cause anxiety in patients who confuse them with those of COVID-19, according to doctors of Patna Medical College and Hospital as well as Nalanda Medical College and Hospital. 

The transition in weather and use of firecrackers last week despite the ban were the two major reasons for the current rise in air pollution in Patna, said BSPCB Chairman Ashok Ghosh. “Besides, construction activities and vehicular movement also contribute to air pollution.”

The shifting of river Ganga away from Patna and biomass burning in the city’s vicinity were responsible for its poor air quality, a BSPCB study had pointed out two years ago. 

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