Rise in Covid-19 and H3N2 cases raise concern in India, Centre urges heightened vigilance

Rise in Covid-19 and H3N2 cases raise concern in India, Centre urges heightened vigilance
Rise in Covid-19 and H3N2 cases raise concern in IndiaImage credits- Canva
  • In some states, the central government expresses concern over rising Covid-19 positivity rates and H3N2 influenza cases.
  • Maharashtra records a spike in Covid-19 cases and deaths, along with several other states.
  • Health experts clarify that the H3N2 influenza outbreak in India is normal but more aggressive and long-lasting than usual.
The centre government expressed concern about a gradual increase in Covid-19 positivity rates in some states, coinciding with a rise in cases of the seasonal influenza subtype H3N2.

According to the Union Health Ministry's report on Tuesday, 402 new coronavirus cases were increased in India, while the number of active cases rose to 3,903. The ministry's data, updated at 8 am, also indicated two fresh deaths from the virus, with one each reported in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh. The overall death toll due to Covid-19 in the country now stands at 5,30,784.

The health department has reported that Maharashtra recorded 155 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, more than double the number of cases detected the previous day, bringing the total totality to 81,38,653. Two patients also succumbed to the infection in the state.

Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Telangana, and Gujarat are among the states that have reported more coronavirus cases than others.

Despite the country's overall Covid-19 test positivity rate remaining at 0.5%, there has been a rise in the positivity rate in some districts and states.

Is H3N2 influenza another Covid-19?


At the same time, cases of H3N2 influenza continue to rise in the country, there are concerns that it could be mistaken for Covid-19. However, doctors and health experts clarified that this outbreak is normal. They have explained that the Covid-induced lockdowns over the past two years have led to no influenza exposure to children.

Doctors have noted that the influenza surge in India is more aggressive and long-lasting than usual, with symptoms such as cough and congestion lasting up to three weeks, as opposed to the typical five to seven days for seasonal fever and cough.

At least three deaths related to H3N2 have been reported in India this season. H3N2 has been responsible for some of the worst flu seasons in recent times, characterized by longer and more severe illnesses resulting in increased hospitalizations and deaths.

Of the last five severe influenza seasons, H3N2 has been the cause of three, including the current outbreak in India. According to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project, India has recorded nearly 600 influenza cases, with 451 classified as H3N2.

Haryana, Karnataka, and Gujarat have reported associated deaths, including an 82-year-old with comorbidities and a 52-year-old with liver cancer.

As per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data, 6% of hospitalized patients exhibited clinical signs of pneumonia and seizures, while 7% developed severe diseases requiring Intensive Care Unit attention, and 10% needed supplemental oxygen. Details on the most recent death recorded in Gujarat on March 14, 2023, are yet to be disclosed.

To combat the situation, the Centre requested all states and union territories to adhere to operational guidelines for the integrated surveillance of respiratory pathogens that present as cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) or severe acute respiratory infection (SARI).

Additionally, the centre requested that states take stock of their hospital preparedness, including the availability of drugs and medical oxygen, and assess vaccination coverage against Covid-19 and influenza.

(With agency inputs)