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VOLUME 25 , ISSUE 7 ( July, 2021 ) > List of Articles


Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Surveillance during the Initial Phase of the COVID-19 Outbreak in North India: A Comparison of COVID-19 to Other SARI Causes

Mohan Kumar, Pranjal Singh, Alan Shaji, Arnab Ghosh, Ashish Behera, Mandeep Bhatia, Neeraj Singla, Mini P Singh

Citation Information : Kumar M, Singh P, Shaji A, Ghosh A, Behera A, Bhatia M, Singla N, Singh MP. Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Surveillance during the Initial Phase of the COVID-19 Outbreak in North India: A Comparison of COVID-19 to Other SARI Causes. Indian J Crit Care Med 2021; 25 (7):761-767.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-23882

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 07-07-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Introduction: World Health Organization proposes severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) case definition for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surveillance; however, early differentiation between SARI etiologies remains challenging. We aimed to investigate the spectrum and outcome of SARI and compare COVID-19 to non-COVID-19 causes. Patients and methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted between March 15, 2020, to August 15, 2020, at an adult medical emergency in North India. SARI was diagnosed using a “modified” case definition—febrile respiratory symptoms or radiographic evidence of pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome of ≤14 days duration, along with a need for hospitalization and in the absence of an alternative etiology that fully explains the illness. COVID-19 was diagnosed with reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing. Results: In total, 95/212 (44.8%) cases had COVID-19. Community-acquired pneumonia (n = 57), exacerbation of chronic lung disease (n = 11), heart failure (n = 11), tropical febrile illnesses (n = 10), and influenza A (n = 5) were common non-COVID-19 causes. No between-group differences were apparent in age >60 years, comorbidities, oxygenation, leukocytosis, lymphopenia, acute physiology and chronic health evaluation (APACHE)-II score, CURB-65 score, and ventilator requirement at 24-hour. Bilateral lung distribution and middle-lower zones involvement in radiography predicted COVID-19. The median hospital stay was longer with COVID-19 (12 versus 5 days, p = 0.000); however, mortality was similar (31.6% versus 28.2%, p = 0.593). Independent mortality predictors were higher mean APACHE II in COVID-19 and early ventilator requirement in non-COVID-19 cases. Conclusions: COVID-19 has similar severity and mortality as non-COVID-19 SARI but requires an extended hospital stay. Including radiography in the SARI definition might improve COVID-19 surveillance.

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