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Changing avatar of COVID: Patients are now showing up with pneumonia, X-rays reveal white patches on lungs

11:42 PM Feb 26, 2021 | Swapnil Mishra

Mumbai: Since the recent surge in Covid cases in the city, doctors are witnessing a new phenomenon -- patients are now coming in to the hospital with pneumonia and their X-rays reveal white patches over their lungs, unlike earlier in the pandemic, when they would develop pneumonia afterwards. Doctors said the main reason for the white patches on the lungs is the delay in treatment, while others believe the virus is changing now and this is the reason for the abnormality in the reports of patients.

The lungs may be the most affected organ in the Covid-19 pandemic, but little is known about the mechanism used by the novel coronavirus to cause lung failure and, subsequently, death in some cases.

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Most doctors use the term ‘ground glass appearance’, to describe Covid-19 affected lungs. Patients’ X-rays, the most common method to check affected lungs, show white patches that are synonymous with most lung conditions. But CT scans give some clarity about how Covid-19 affects the lungs differently than, say, the H1N1 virus. A CT scan shows Covid-19 mainly affects the periphery of the lungs as against central infection seen in pneumonia caused by other viruses and bacteria.

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Dr Rajaratan Sadavarte, chest physician, Kohinoor Hospital, said, for the last few days, abnormalities have been detected in the X-rays of Covid-19 patients, as most of them have developed white patches. He says that patients showing corona-like symptoms should immediately consult doctors to avoid further complications. People should strictly follow Covid norms, to stay safe. “It is a matter of concern, as, if not diagnosed early, lungs will be badly damaged and it will become challenging for doctors to handle the patients,” he said.

Dr Om Srivastava, infectious diseases expert and member of the state’s Covid-19 task force said there are no two opinions about how the virus is changing. Abnormality is being seen in patient reports. “Earlier corona patients would develop pneumonia in 6 to 7 days but now, they get pneumonia in just two days. X-rays are also unusual,” he said.

Dr Neemish Kamat, Senior Consultant, Radiology, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, said there has been a definite increase in the number of younger patients with severe pneumonia, as compared to the earlier pandemic period. “The number of such patients is small, about 4-5 per cent and the trend is not alarming. However, there is a possibility that patients delay the treatment, which leads to more complications. As the severity of Covid increases between 7-16 days of exposure, it is essential that patients seek treatment prior to that period,” he said.

Worryingly, the percentage of active cases in the city has risen to 67.57 in the last 15 days, with a corresponding 81 per cent rise in the state in the same period.

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