Impending dengue threat in the midst of the Covid outbreak

AN INCREASE in dengue cases is alarming at a time when the Covid outbreak is wreaking havoc. Within 24 hours to Sunday morning, 53 dengue cases were reported and at least 11,874 Covid cases with 231 deaths were recorded. A total of 726 dengue cases have been reported since January, of which 302 were discovered in the first 10 days of July. The dengue situation in the capital is worrying as 296 cases have been reported in areas of the Dhaka South City Corporation. The rise in dengue cases is a cause for concern as the healthcare system is already strained from the protracted Covid-19 outbreak. The Directorate-General for Health Services has encouraged everyone to get tested if they develop dengue symptoms. Dhaka city authorities, meanwhile, began operating mobile courts and cracked down on organizations and individuals who failed to adhere to dengue prevention protocols. However, experts do not believe that such drives could do the job.

The sharp increase in July is not unusual, as Aedes mosquitoes perceive the monsoon season as the ideal breeding season and breed where there is clean, stagnant water. The epidemiological pattern of the past three years also suggests a higher incidence in the monsoons. In June, a health agency survey found Aedes larvae in one fifth of the structures examined in Dhaka. In May, the National Malaria Elimination and Aedes Disease Control Program reported similar results in areas controlled by the two city authorities. Delaying government action in combating the disease is therefore unacceptable as it was well aware of the evolving situation. City authorities are now running anti-mosquito campaigns that include routine insecticide spraying and awareness campaigns with the participation of local councils. However, no significant progress has been made in cleaning the canals, which is critical to a successful dengue prevention campaign. The Covid outbreak in no way justifies the delay if the city council has the opportunity to get to work by providing cleaners with protective equipment against the Covid infection.

Therefore, it is imperative now that the government urge city corporations and other public agencies to take urgent steps to control the multiplication of Aedes mosquitoes and redouble their mosquito control efforts by running routine cleaning trips Cleaning the canals and other bodies of water as well as a timely use of insecticides to kill the larvae. A dengue outbreak could, if not prevented, put a double burden on the health system already burdened by the Covid-19 outbreak. The government must not downplay the threat and must make urgent political decisions and deploy resources to combat the dengue threat.

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