Monday, 27 September, 2021

Dengue situation deteriorating

► Highest 143 dengue patients hospitalised in 24 hours ► 1,573 hospitalised in 27 days of July, more than last year’s tally ► Capital accounts for 97pc of hospitalised patients

Amid a deadly surge in both deaths and infections from coronavirus, the country is now facing another health crisis as the dengue situation has started turning alarming day by day.

“Dengue cases are on the rise. The situation may turn alarming as it’s the peak season for dengue. Though maximum dengue cases are being found in Dhaka city currently, it may spread to other big cities, including Chattogram, and even to districts,” Prof Dr Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), told the Daily Sun on Tuesday. She said if anyone catches fever, they are advising him/her to carry out both Covid-19 and dengue tests at the same time in a bid to start necessary treatment immediately.

With a rise in dengue cases in the country for the last few weeks, health experts feared that the concurrent rise in both coronavirus and dengue cases will put a severe strain on the country’s healthcare system as it will be difficult to ensure proper treatment for the patients of both diseases.

The single-day hospitalisation of dengue patients has broken all previous records of this year as highest 143 were hospitalised in the country in the last 24 hours till Tuesday morning. With this, over 100 single-day dengue patients were taken to hospitals for four consecutive days.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 1,573 dengue patients were hospitalised in July, 272 in June, 43 in May, three in April, 13 in March, nine in February and 32 in January.

It said 142 new patients were hospitalised in the capital and only one was outside the city in the last 24 hours. A total of 500 patients diagnosed with dengue are now receiving treatment at 41 government and private hospitals in Dhaka while nine outside the city.

However, three deaths caused by dengue have been reported in hospitals this year, the DGHS said. But the unofficial sources from different hospitals said at least five dengue patients died in the country this year.

A total of 1,945 dengue patients were hospitalised in the country since January until July 27 this year. Of them, around 97 percent or 1,894 were hospitalised in Dhaka city alone, the DGHS said.

Dr Afsana Alamgir Khan, deputy programme manager of Malaria and Aedes Transmitted Diseases Control Programme of the DGHS, said they have issued a letter on Tuesday asking the authorities of all government hospitals of the country to open dengue units to ensure proper treatment for the patients. “We’ve asked the authorities to prepare teams for the dengue units and carry out dengue treatment as per updated treatment guidelines of the dengue disease. The hospital authorities have also been asked to pay special attention to pregnant women and children who are infected with dengue,” she added.

Speaking at a health bulletin of the DGHS recently, its spokesperson Prof Dr Robed Amin said dengue cases started rising since June and reminded all that the dengue situation took a dangerous turn in 2019 when over one lakh dengue patients were hospitalised and around 179 deaths were reported.

According to a DGHS report, a total of 1,405 dengue patients were detected across the country from January 1 to December 31, 2020. The IEDCR confirmed seven deaths from dengue last year.

On the other hand, 1,573 dengue patients were hospitalised only in 27 days of the current month of July which has already crossed the total number of dengue patients hospitalised last year.

Talking to the Daily Sun, Dr ASM Alamgir, principal scientific officer of the IEDCR, said, “People should remain alert to dengue particularly during this rainy season. The dengue situation may take an alarming turn anytime if people don’t maintain guidelines in this regard and control the vector of the disease.”

Health experts also said although dengue spreads mainly in rainy season from April to October, it might infect people anytime round the year.

“Aedes mosquito is the carrier of the dengue virus. If the mosquito is not controlled, dengue and chikungunya may break out anytime at an alarming rate,” Saif Ullah Munshi, chairman of Virology Department at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), told the Daily Sun.

He said there are two ways to fight these mosquito-borne diseases—one is to produce vaccine or anti-viral drug while the other is to kill mosquitoes and destroy their breeding grounds.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said there is no specific treatment for dengue or severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers the fatality rate below 1 percent.

Dr Afsana Alamgir Khan said four hospitals—Sir Salimullah Medical College (Mitford) Hospital, Lalkuthi Hospital in Mirpur, Railway General Hospital in Kamalapur and Shaheed Ahsanullah Master General Hospital in Tongi—may be designated for dengue treatment.

Prof Kabirul Bashar, entomologist at Jahangirnagar University, said, “Dengue may spread in districts, particularly other cities, as a huge number of people have recently gone to their homes outside the capital to celebrate Eid. All DCs and mayors of local government units should take necessary measures.”

Sources at the LGRD Ministry said the government has taken various initiatives to control the dengue situation as it has already instructed all city corporations, including the two in Dhaka, to strengthen the anti-mosquito drives.

The ministry also held an emergency meeting with the mayors of Dhaka and Gazipur on Sunday and asked them to form a dengue cell each, the sources added.

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) sources said the two city corporations on Tuesday started an anti-mosquito drive in all wards simultaneously.