Even though India has been witnessing a dip in infections over the past week, a surge in cases of post-COVID complications has been reported from metropolitan cities like Delhi and Bengaluru. There are significant deaths being reported during the second wave of COVID after 10 days of recovery and discharge. This is in sharp contrast to the first wave of the pandemic when nearly 60 per cent of deaths were reported to have occurred within one to three days of hospitalisation.
In Delhi, hospitals are reporting 25-30 patients with serious post-COVID complications in the OPDs daily, with patients requiring oxygen support several weeks after recovering from the infection, when last year, the most common symptom was only fatigue. The recovered patients are also reporting high-grade fever months after recovery.
In a report by NDTV, Dr Vivek Nangia, Head of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Max Hospital, Saket, stated that "70-80% of our OPDs are flooded with post-Covid patients. Classically, we see lung fibrosis in patients who are over 65 or have been smokers but this time, because middle-aged people, younger patients and even children were admitted in larger numbers. We have patients who are on oxygen support even after discharge; we have had to send them home with oxygen inflow."
Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant of Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo hospital also mentioned the persistent fever in recovered patients. He said that apart from Mucormycosis (black fungus), there have been an increasing number of cases of lung fungal infections and bacterial infections, as compared to the first wave. He added that 80 per cent of their recent hospitalisations had been for post-COVID cases.
"Many deaths are due to post-Covid complications. Persons who are infected and in the recovery phase are dying," according to Dr Shiva Kumar from the emergency unit at Victoria Hospital, a COVID tertiary care facility attached to Bangalore Medical College. "If a proper retrospective study of the death cases is done then you will find that many had Covid, they were treated, they went home and again they had some problems and were brought back to the hospital and admitted to the ICU. Around 5 per cent come back to the ICU and around 1-2 per cent die," he added.
A similar pattern is observed in the private hospitals in Bengaluru, according to a report by The Indian Express.
These post-COVID health complications have come to be termed as "long COVID" or "long-haul COVID", impacting lungs, kidneys, heart, and cases of black fungal infection. With the cases of black fungus on the rise, newer cases of white fungus and yellow fungus have also been reported in certain parts of the country.