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AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria (Photo/ANI)
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria (Photo/ANI)

Air pollution may lead to severe COVID cases, says AIIMS director Randeep Guleria

By Shalini Bhardwaj | Updated: Nov 05, 2021 22:48 IST


New Delhi [India], November 5 (ANI): Stating that air pollution could lead to more severe cases of COVID, All India Institute of Medical Science Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that pollution has a huge effect on respiratory health, especially among those who have lung diseases and asthma.
As pollution and COVID-19 affect the lungs and the high level of air pollution may worsen the disease, at times resulting in the death of a patient, said Dr Guleria in an exclusive interview with ANI.
The pollution level in Delhi on Friday turned severe on the morning after Diwali due to bursting of firecrackers despite the ban.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Guleria said due to little movement of wind in the air during October and November, burning of stubble and bursting of firecrackers, the pollutants tend to settle on the ground level and so the pollution level rises.
He said, "Respiratory problem is not the only concern during this period. Patients who have a cardiovascular issue, especially those who have underlying lung disease people with chronic bronchitis, COPD, or asthmatic patient also face breathing problem and they have to depend on nebulizer or the usage of inhaler goes up sharply. So it could lead to worsening of underlying respiratory diseases."
He also spoke about the two sets of data supporting the claim of pollution affecting COVID-19 patients severely. Dr Guleria said, "One data suggests that the virus may stay in the air for a longer period when the pollutants are present in the air, turning the disease into the airborne disease. While the other data which has been analysed during the SARS outbreak in 2003 says that pollution causes inflammation and swelling in the lungs. Research from the SARS outbreak in 2003 in countries like the US and Italy has shown that the areas with higher levels of pollution impact those previously affected by COVID-19, causing inflammation and lung damage. The combination of pollution and COVID-19 could lead to higher fatality rates."
Air pollution is also dangerous for children's health. He said, "Before COVID-19, we had done a study on the number of admissions in emergency wards. We had found that whenever the pollution level is high, the patients, especially children, get admitted to emergency wards complaining about respiratory problem."
Dr Guleria suggested that as a measure of prevention, people should wear masks, especially N95 masks and avoid going to places where the pollution level is high. He said that people should avoid going out for a morning walk when the pollution level is high. (ANI)

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