Delhi CM Kejriwal reviews measures to check dengue spread in the national capital, Image: PTI/File
Amid a rise in dengue cases in the national capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday reviewed measures to check the spread of the disease and the health minister said genome sequencing of some positive samples showed the dominant strain was a severe one.
According to the last available official data, released by the civic body on Monday, a total of 187 dengue cases have been reported in the national capital this year till July 22 -- the highest for the period since 2018. The number of dengue cases reported in first three weeks of July stood at nearly 65. It was 40 in June and 23 in May, according to the report issued by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
In addition, 61 cases of malaria have been recorded in the same period, it said. The fear of a dengue outbreak has been accentuated by recent flooding in several areas of the national capital due to heavy rains and rising water level of the Yamuna river.
As part of measures to tackle the situation, the fine for mosquito breeding has been raised to Rs 1,000 in case of households and Rs 5,000 for commercial establishments, Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said. Earlier, the quantum of fine for households was Rs 500, a civic official said.
The chief minister has also directed the health department to reserve beds for dengue patients and ensure the availability of necessary medicines at hospitals and mohalla clinics, the health minister said. Dengue is a viral infection caused by the dengue virus (DENV), transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female mosquitoes, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
According to experts, there are four dengue virus serotypes -- DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4. Health Minister Bharadwaj said genome sequencing of 20 dengue-positive samples in Delhi has showed that 19 of these had strain type-2.
Type-2 is a severe strain, from which there is risk to patients, but the trend also suggests that there is only one strain in circulation broadly, but "we all need to be cautious", he said. Bharadwaj attended the meeting chaired by the chief minister, besides Delhi Mayor Shelly Oberoi and civic and health officials.
In the meeting, the chief minister reviewed the situation and the measures being taken and planned to be taken by various departments to check the spread of dengue and other vector-borne diseases in the national capital, the health minister said. "Delhi CM has directed the health department to reserve beds for dengue patients and ensure availability of medicines at hospitals and mohalla clinics," the health minister said.
Asked if hospitalisation is being required in the city for such patients, he said, "Hospitalisation need is not seen as of now. But we will put all our medical systems on high alert." Bharadwaj also said that the government has declared hospitals as "zero-tolerance zones" for breeding of mosquito larvae, and all departments have been asked to ensure there is no breeding of mosquito larvae found in their office premises.
He urged people to not go for self-medication and not buy over-the-counter drugs, and consult a doctor in case of fever. "Aspirin, disprin, ibuprofin, which further thin the blood, should not be taken by a dengue patient. A doctor should be consulted in case of fever," the minister cautioned.
Also, a fever case should not be treated as simple fever, he said, adding that free dengue tests are available at mohalla clinics and dispensaries. In the meeting, it was also decided that dengue breeding checkers should go and check all households to see if there is any breeding of mosquito larvae. The 1031 helpline, which is a Covid helpine, will now cater to cases of dengue too, Bharadwaj said, adding a 24x7 control room will be set up soon.
ASHA workers will also be involved in their areas and the Metro network and police have also been asked to join the campaign against dengue. "Delhi Metro has already started making announcements at its stations. Delhi Police have a PA system, and we have requested them to also raise awareness through that. At police 'malkanas', mosquito breeding had been found last time, so police have been told check 'malkhanas' too," he said.
On the full-sleeve clothes and full pants norms introduced recently at schools, Bharadwaj said, "I did not see much implementation of it", and therefore the "CM has asked the director of education to ensure its strict implementation". On the dengue report card to be made by students, he said this has been made "mandatory" for all schools in Delhi, be it run by government, MCD, or private entities.
School children will be made responsible for spreading awareness and for checking their homes for stagnant water. The Directorate of Education and MCD have been asked to direct private and government schools to provide 'Dengue Homework Cards' to students to help monitor their homes.
Asked about the rise in eye flu cases, the minister said an advisory has been issued on it and in the flood-affected areas, its cases have been on the rise in the last two weeks. A senior official said earlier in the day, "The meeting chaired by the CM began at noon and went on for around an hour." Richa Sareen, senior consultant, pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, said dengue is accompanied with high-grade fever and patients should keep themselves hydrated and not resort to self-medication.
"If a patient is feeling very weak and severely dehydrated due to bouts of vomiting and dizziness in head, then it's a sign that the person should be hospitalised," she said. In the first 48 hours since the onset of symptoms, one should undergo NS1 antigen test, done to diagnose dengue infection, the doctor added.
A normal platelet count is between 1,50,000 and 4,00,000 per microliter of blood, and therefore this count should be properly monitored, she said. In 2022, Delhi reported 159 dengue cases between January 1 and July 22. During the same period in 2021, it reported 47 dengue cases.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, the city witnessed 49, 34, and 28 cases, respectively. Delhi Mayor Oberoi had recently cautioned people against the possibility of a rise in dengue and malaria cases in the national capital due to flooding in several areas. She said that departments have been directed to check mosquito breeding and clear the silt and sludge left by the flood.
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