Covid lockdown could lead to over 1.8 lakh new TB cases, 88,000 additional deaths, study says

Representational image of a tuberculosis patient | File photo: PTI
Representational image of a tuberculosis patient | File photo: PTI

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New Delhi: The Covid-19 lockdown may lead to 1,86,000 new tuberculosis (TB) cases and 88,000 additional deaths due to the disease in India, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the Indian Journal of Tuberculosis, reveal that there had been a 59 per cent under-detection of TB cases during the eight-week lockdown, between March and May, compared to the same duration before that.

The research was conducted by Dr Anurag Bhargava, Department of Medicine, Yenepoya University, Mangalore, and Dr Hemant Deepak Shewade, Centre for Operational Research at The Union, an international non-profit working on TB.

The nationwide lockdown, to curb the spread of Covid-19, had caused disruption in TB services and delay in diagnosis of this bacterial illness. This, the authors have noted, may lead to additional deaths if patients do not get treatment on time.

Also read: Disruption in healthcare services due to Covid may increase HIV, TB deaths, says Lancet study

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India has the highest number of TB cases and deaths resulting from it, says the study. It is more than a quarter of the world’s 10 million estimated cases and 449,700 of the world’s estimated 1.3 million TB-related deaths.

TB kills around 4.8 lakh Indians every year, or about 1,400 people daily, according to estimates from the National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination (2017-25).

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