Background: The recent COVID-19 pandemic became a looming catastrophe over global public health and severely disrupted essential healthcare services like tuberculosis (TB). This study estimated the impact of the COVID-19 in the diagnosis of TB, a microbiology laboratory-based overview. Method: This ambispective observational study was conducted at the Department of Microbiology in a tertiary care hospital in South Karnataka from January 2019 to December 2020. A standardized data collection sheet was prepared to collect the month-wise total number of suspected TB and confirmed TB samples. Data were analyzed using EZR 3.4.3 (R, open-source). Categorical variables were expressed in frequency and percentage. The Chi-square test was performed to test the difference in proportions and p < 0.05 indicated statistical significance. Results: In this study, a significant drop was observed in suspected TB specimens in 2020 compared to 2019, i.e. 54.8% for microscopy, along with 34.2% and 49.7% for Xpert MTB/RIF and MGIT culture respectively. Also, a sharp decline in confirmed TB samples was noted in 2020 with 49%, 43.8%, and 59.7% reduction with microscopy, Xpert MTB/RIF, and MGIT culture respectively, compared to 2019. Another major finding from this study reveals the PTB: EPTB proportion changed from 2.7:1 in 2019 to 2.1:1 in 2020, divulging an overall increase in EPTB sample proportion in 2020 (p = 0.0385). Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted the TB diagnostic services, resulting in a significant reduction of active TB case detection. It highlights an urgent need to revise the strategies to control and eliminate TB in this hour of the pandemic crisis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases