An elderly person complaining of breathlessness, exertion and dry cough visited a Navi Mumbai hospital in June. The sexagenarian had never tested positive for Covid-19, but a lung function test showed blockage that was consistent with that in patients afflicted by the coronavirus disease.
A high-resolution CT scan revealed mild residual Covid-like lesions. Normally, the immune response in fighting coronavirus and some fuzziness in the lungs cause this anomaly. The doctors ruled out other illnesses by conducting more investigations.
The patient said that he had travelled to pilgrim towns, including Varanasi, before the lockdown in February-March. He said and that he had had a mild fever for a few days.
On the basis of the patient’s medical history and his present condition, the doctors have tentatively named it “post-Covid-19” disease. They treated him with steroids and inhaler.
While this was a stray case in June, doctors are now reporting more instances of patients who have never tested positive landing in hospitals with post-Covid-19 symptoms. They report a history of fever or cough, which subsides in a day or two and which they may have ignored.
Curiously, with symptoms resurfacing, doctors are subjecting many to the RT-PCR test, where the results are negative, but the same patients then test positive in the antibody test, indicating a history of Covid-19. Doctors opine many of these patients may have neglected signs of the disease earlier, as mild symptoms subside in a day or two.
Dr Jayalakshmi TK, a consultant pulmonologist with Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai, has seen about 30 such patients who have never tested positive but come with breathlessness and unexplained lung ailments. “We ask for their history. Then they reveal they might have had fever two or three months ago.”
The RT-PCR would be negative, but a CT scan shows typical Covid-like features and it is fairly confirmatory. A high CO-RADS score is suggestive of Covid and in some cases, the antibody tests come positive too — although that need not necessarily mean that the symptoms are because of Covid-19,” she said.