Virus grips the nation, with 4,044 dengue cases reported in Punjab and 211 in Sindh. DESIGN: MOHSIN ALAM
With an alarming increase of dengue virus cases being reported in all corners of the country, government authorities are scurrying to control the epidemic from spreading further. Control cells have been established in Punjab, while medicines and fumigation of international standards are being, reportedly, imported.
So far 4,044 cases of dengue have been reported in Punjab, out of which 3,576 cases have been reported in Lahore alone, Health Secretary Muhammad Jehanzaib Khan said on Monday. The virus has claimed the lives of eight people in Punjab, he added. However, unconfirmed reports state that the death toll in the province has reached 10.
Khan said that out of the total number of cases, a majority of patients have recovered and presently 438 patients are under treatment in different hospitals of Punjab.
The outbreak of the dengue virus has created panic in the provincial metropolis, where wards of public hospitals are overloaded with suspected cases. Seven Chinese citizens working in Lahore also contracted the virus and have been admitted to Jinnah Hospital in Lahore.
The health secretary also said that an inquiry committee formed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has declared that the sprays being used against dengue mosquitos are in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
However, in order to remove any apprehensions of people and for their satisfaction, medicines of international brands are also being imported, he added.
‘Fumigating posh areas’
The total number of dengue cases in Faisalabad increased to 151, with 12 new cases reported on Monday.
According to recent data, the epidemic is rapidly increasing in the city, nullifying the health department’s claims.
The health department had initiated an anti-dengue campaign, which local experts termed ‘improper and ill-planned’ because it did not yield positive results.
Residents of rural areas of Faisalabad denied the existence of ‘a vigorous campaign against mosquitoes’ as claimed by the health department.
They claimed that the health department only fumigated some posh localities, while neglecting the slum areas.
Control cells established in Islamabad
The government on Monday established a Federal Dengue Monitoring Cell at the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to help counter the spread of the virus in Islamabad.
The establishment of the cell was announced at a meeting held under the newly-appointed Additional Secretary CADD, Khalid Hanif.
The cell will monitor, on a daily basis, all activities going on in the capital regarding prevention and control of the disease in public hospitals. It will also ensure the availability of essential medicines at all public health institutions in rural and urban areas of the capital.
So far, 40 confirmed cases of dengue have been reported in Islamabad, including 15 in the Shifa International Hospital, five in the Polyclinic Hospital and some in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).
In the last 24 hours, five patients suspected of suffering from dengue fever were admitted to Shifa International Hospital and seven at Pims.
211 cases confirmed in Sindh
With seven new cases of dengue in Karachi, the number of confirmed dengue patients in the province has jumped to 211 this year.
The Sindh health department denied media reports of deaths related to dengue in Karachi and elsewhere in the province. Coordinator Dengue Control Cell Sindh Dr Shakeel Mullick told APP that from January 1 to September 10, 195 dengue cases were reported to the cell by government and private hospitals in Sindh. These included 169 in Karachi and 26 in other parts of the province. However, he said that there has been only “one death” related to dengue this year in Karachi in February this year.
One death, 19 cases confirmed in Hazara
Health authorities in Abbottabad on Monday confirmed the death of a dengue virus carrier, as well as 19 confirmed cases of dengue in Hazara division, while over 100 suspected patients have been put under surveillance.
The deceased, who hailed from Mansehra district, reportedly died of dengue hemorrhagic fever – the most lethal kind of dengue, official sources told The Express Tribune.
According to official sources, a total of 19 cases of dengue have been reported from the three main districts of Hazara – Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra.
A total of eight cases have been reported in Haripur, according to Deputy Executive District Officer Health Dr Muhammad Bilal. He added that no death had so far been reported.
However, independent sources rejected official claims and said that the deaths of four people, including a woman, have been reported from across the district.
Ayub Medical Complex authorities in Abbottabad confirmed a total of seven positive cases of dengue, while four cases were detected in Mansehra district.
However, EDO health Mansehra Dr Maj Sidiq Rehman said that the situation was comparatively better than last year and Hazara division has witnessed a ‘minor incidence of dengue’.
(ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SADAQAT ALI IN ABBOTTABAD, SEHRISH WASIF IN ISLAMABAD AND SHAMSUL ISLAM IN FAISALABAD. ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2011.