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Threat Of COVID-19s Pirola Variant Looming Over Delhi NCR, Households Affected By Viral, Flu: Survey


New Delhi: Delhi NCR has been witnessing a surge in viral fever cases in the past month, with 50% of households reporting one or more members with COVID/ flu/ viral fever symptoms, according to a survey by LocalCircles. The survey also revealed that most people have stopped observing COVID protocol or getting themselves tested even at home, raising the risk of a new COVID variant spreading undetected in the region. The new variant, named BA.2.86 and nicknamed Pirola, is making waves in several countries across the globe including the USA and UK.

Scientists are calling it the start of a new tree, one that is vastly different from Omicron and closer to the ancestral Alpha and Delta variants. Pirola has been associated with shortness of breath and loss of smell or taste as some of the symptoms reported.

The survey by LocalCircles asked citizens “How many individuals do you have in your household in Delhi NCR who currently have one or more COVID/ flu/ viral fever symptoms like fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, joint pain, body ache, respiratory issues, etc.?” The survey received over 9,000 responses from household representatives located in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women.

The data shows that while 50% of respondents indicated that “no one, thankfully” was unwell in their household; 33% indicated that one individual in the family was unwell while 17% indicated that 2 to 3 individuals in their household were unwell with COVID/ flu/ viral fever symptoms.

Compared to a survey done a month ago in the second week of August, when 21% of respondents residing in Delhi NCR had indicated that one or more individuals in their household were down with COVID/ viral symptoms, the new survey done exactly a month after the last one has revealed that there has been a sizable jump in people who are unwell with 50% of households surveyed being affected now.

While some Doctors on LocalCircles have also indicated possibilities like swine flu and RSV being reported in addition to viral fever and COVID, the fact is that these illnesses are on the rise. With COVID impacting immunity levels of most over the last few years, there is also the possibility of people falling sick more easily now than the pre-COVID times.

Given what the survey finds, the wise approach for citizens in Delhi NCR would be to mask and socially distance, atleast when aware that someone in school or office is unwell and could be source of viral transmission for others. With COVID variants like Pirola rising world over, the Government must also consider making available free RT-PCR testing to people as well as doing more genome testing. If there is a new variant of COVID circulating in Delhi NCR, it is better if it is identified sooner rather than once it has already spread at scale.


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