India's federal health ministry said on Saturday there was not enough scientific evidence to link COVID-19 with increase in Tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
"Due to the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions, case notifications for TB had decreased by about 25 percent in 2020 but special efforts are being made to mitigate this impact through intensified case finding in OPD settings as well as through active case finding campaigns in the community by all states," the ministry said.
"Moreover, there is not enough evidence currently to suggest that there has been an increase in TB cases due to COVID-19 or due to increased case finding efforts."
The ministry refuted local media reports alleging that a sudden rise in cases of TB has been noticed among patients who were infected with COVID-19 recently.
"It is clarified that TB screening for all COVID-19 positive patients and COVID-19 screening for all diagnosed TB patients has been recommended by the ministry of health and family welfare. States have been asked for convergence in efforts for better surveillance and case finding of TB and COVID-19, as early as August 2020," the ministry said.
According to the ministry, the dual morbidity of TB and COVID-19 can be further highlighted through the facts that both the diseases are known to be infectious and primarily attack the lungs, presenting similar symptoms of cough, fever and difficulty in breathing, although TB has a longer incubation period and a slower onset of disease.
"SARS-CoV-2 infection can make an individual more susceptible to developing active TB disease, as TB is an opportunistic infection like black fungus," the ministry said.