Clinical and Epidemiological Features of SARS-CoV-2 Patients in SARI Ward of a Tertiary Care Centre in New Delhi

J Assoc Physicians India. 2020 Jul;68(7):19-26.


Importance: Rapid spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Wuhan, China, prompted heightened surveillance in India. Since the first laboratory confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 was reported from Kerala on January 30, 2020 novel coronavirus infected pneumonia (NCIP) has been presenting to the hospital emergencies as severe acute respiratory illness (SARI). We aim to find out the rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity in SARI cases and further clarify the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of NCIP in New Delhi, India.

Aims and objectives: To find out the rate of SARS-CoV-2 positivity in SARI cases presenting to the hospital emergency and describe the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of NCIP.

Design, setting and participants: Retrospective, single-center case series of the 82 consecutive hospitalized patients with SARI and subsequent confirmed NCIP cases at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, New Delhi between 10th April 2020 and 30th April 2020.

Main outcomes and measures: Epidemiological, demographic, clinical, laboratory, radiological, and treatment data were collected and analyzed. The primary composite end-point was admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), the use of mechanical ventilation or death. Patients were categorized as severe pneumonia and non-severe pneumonia at time of admission and outcome data was compared.

Results: Of the 82 SARI cases, 32(39%) patients were confirmed to be SARS-CoV-2 positive. The median age of NCIP cases was 54.5 years (IQR, 46.25 - 60) and 19(59.3%) of them were males. 24(75%) cases were categorized as severe pneumonia on admission. 22(68.8%) patients had 1 or more co-morbidities. Diabetes mellitus 16(50%), hypertension 11(34.4%) and chronic obstructive airway disease 5(15.6%) were the most common co-existing illnesses. Compared with the patients who did not meet the primary outcome, patients who met the primary outcome were more likely to be having at least 1 underlying comorbidity (p-0.03), diabetes (p-0.003) and hypertension (p-0.03). Common symptoms included dyspnea 29(90.6%) followed by cough 27(84.4%), fever 22(68%), bodyache and myalgias 14(43.75%). Median time from symptom onset to hospital admission was 3 days. The most common pattern on chest X-ray was bilateral patchy nodular or interstitial infiltration seen in 30(93.8%) patients. Leucopenia was present in 10(31.2%) of the patients, with majority of patients presenting with lymphocytopenia, 24(75%) [lymphocyte count (1106 cells/ dL), interquartile range {IQR}, (970-1487)]. Thrombocytopenia was seen in 14(43.8%) patients, pancytopenia in 10(31.2%) patients and anemia was seen in 14(43.8%) patients. Hypoalbuminemia was present in 22(68.8%) cases. Raised CK-MB was seen in 7(21.9%) patients. The primary composite end-point occurred in 12(37.5%) patients, including 9(28.13%) patients who required mechanical ventilation and subsequently expired. 3(9.3%) of these patients who recovered, were subsequently shifted to COVID-19 ward from the ICU. The patients who met the primary outcome were older in age (56.5 years vs 50 years), had significantly higher SOFA scores (6 vs 3.5), were in shock (41.7% vs 5%), in higher respiratory distress (66.7% vs 10%), had lower mean arterial oxygen saturation (85% vs 89.5%), had higher CK-MB values (66 vs 26)U/L [6(54.5%) vs 2(9.5%)], had hypoalbuminemia (100% vs 50%) and acute kidney injury 8(72.7%) vs 5(23.8%) on admission. Of the 50 non-COVID-19 SARI patients in our study cohort, 13 (26%) patients met the primary composite outcome. Of them 9 (18%) patients expired and remaining 4 patients have subsequently recovered. As on 17th May 2020, 23 patients were still hospitalized, recovering in COVID-19 ward.

Conclusion and relevance: In this single-center case series from New Delhi, out of 82 patients of SARI, 32 patients were confirmed NCIP, with a COVID-19 positivity of 39%. 75% of NCIP presented in severe pneumonia and 37.5% required ICU care. The case fatality rate was 28%.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tertiary Care Centers