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Think Outside The Box

No need to be alarmed immensely over COVID-19 reinfection case reported in Hong Kong: ICMR

The apex health research body, ICMR, on Tuesday said there is “no need to be alarmed immensely” over the reinfection case of COVID-19 reported in Hong Kong, but at the same time maintained that it is not yet known how long the immunity lasts in case of coronavirus.

At a press briefing, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director-General Balram Bhargava said the Hong Kong case is a stray example and the reinfection can depend upon various factors.

“We have read with interest the reports of reinfection in one case in Hong Kong. We are learning more and more about the disease as we go ahead. It can depend on several factors, one can be related to the patient itself, how is his immunity, how was his immune status, was it compromised. It can also depend upon the virus, whether the virus has mutated or turned virulent,” he said.

However, only one case of re-infection has been reported and it is very rare for viral infections, he said.

Citing the example of measles, he said once it affects, it gives lifelong immunity. But rarely does one can get the measles a second time.

“Similarly, this is a stray example, but for this disease, we are trying to find out. We need to find out how long the immunity lasts. We need to closely follow it up, but at the same time we don’t need to be alarmed immensely about it,” Bhargava said.

University of Hong Kong scientists have reportedly claimed to have the first evidence of someone being reinfected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after genetic tests showed that a 33-year-old man returning from a trip to Spain in mid-August had a different strain of the coronavirus than the one he was found infected with in March.

On patients facing post-COVID complications like respiratory and heart problems, Union Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said a group of experts is presently working on a guidance note for people who have recovered from COVID-19 including possible complications that may arise and how to address them.

He said the technical committee of domain knowledge experts, known as a joint monitoring group (JMG) in the health ministry headed by the DGHS, is working on the guidance note.

The committee consists of domain knowledge experts from different central government hospitals, AIIMS, New Delhi, WHO India office and even experts from outside the government.

To finalize the document, the JMG is obtaining data of the recovered patients, specifically of those who have come back with certain complications and then have been treated, from central government hospitals and AIIMS across the country.

India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 31,67,323 on Tuesday, while recoveries surged to 24,04,585 pushing the recovery rate to 75.92 percent, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

The death toll climbed to 58,390 with 848 fatalities being reported in 24 hours, the data updated at 8 AM showed.

Replying to a query, Bhargava said, “I would say irresponsible and less cautious people who are not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing are driving the pandemic in India.”