DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh fighting to control the spread of a deadly mosquito-borne virus, which has so far killed at least 60 people, have been warned the crisis could get worse.
Despite desperate attempts to stem the outbreak of dengue fever, the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed on Tuesday that 753 new cases had been admitted to hospitals across the country in the past 24 hours.
In a statement, the Health Emergency Operation Center and Control Room (HEOCCR) at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said that the number of patients currently undergoing treatment for the disease in government and private hospitals stood at 3,072, out of which 1,434 were in the capital Dhaka.
Of the 60 confirmed deaths from the virus, 22 of them were children.
Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told Arab News that preventive measures urgently needed to be put in place, “otherwise the situation may take a turn for the worse in days to come.”
According to official data, 78,617 people have been struck down by the virus in Bangladesh this year alone. Around 95 percent of them were released from hospital after seeking medical help.
“Apart from the capital, Jashore, Barisal, Kushtia and Manikgonj have already been identified as the most dengue-prone areas,” Dr. Ayesha Akther, spokesperson for the HEOCCR told Arab News.
“We have been informed of 197 deaths due to dengue at different hospitals, but to determine whether they were because of dengue or another disease, we would have to thoroughly examine the case histories of the patients.”
Dhaka Children’s Hospital (DCH), the only specialized hospital of its kind in the country, was currently treating 66 dengue patients, said its director, Prof. Syed Shafi Ahmed.
“Children aged between four and eight years are most vulnerable to dengue,” he told Arab News. “Although we are now receiving less patients compared to last month, the number is still high and it’s a matter of concern for us.
“Any type of fever in this situation can’t be ignored and people should test themselves within three days.”
Experts have identified global warming and climate change as one of the main reasons for the outbreak, with other tropical and sub-tropical countries also hit by the virus this year.
“The pattern of rainfall has changed in recent years which has created a favorable environment for the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” said Flora.
The IEDCR director added that the Bangladeshi government had given “maximum effort” to dealing with this year’s dengue outbreak. “We have provided dengue test kits in all the government hospitals … in all private hospitals, the government has fixed the rate of dengue screening at an affordable price too.”
She said a massive awareness campaign was also underway, “the results for which are already visible with the number of new patients being much lower than those registered in August.”
However, Flora warned that Bangladesh was a dengue-prevalent country and preventive measures must be in place to curb the menace. “Otherwise the situation may take a turn for the worse in days to come.”
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