Amid the deteriorating Covid situation in the country, dengue infections are surging at an alarming rate with each passing day.
At least 1,920 dengue patients have been admitted to different hospitals this month, a figure much higher than the total number of patients –– 1,405 –– who suffered from the mosquito-borne disease last year.
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 194 dengue patients were admitted to hospitals across the country in 24 hours till 8am on Thursday, increasing the number of patients infected this year to 2,292. Among them, 1,646 have returned home after receiving treatment.
In 2020, seven dengue patients died in the country. The DGHS has not confirmed any death from dengue fever this year. So far, only four deaths are under investigation.
Yasir Arafat Noor, 15, was diagnosed with dengue on 24 July and is being treated at Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital in the capital. His younger sister and mother have also been undergoing treatment for dengue at the same hospital.
Noor told TBS that during the first few days, his temperature rose to 105 degrees with a shivering fever. "I am feeling a little better since my admission to the hospital," he said.
Noor's father Sheikh Sadeq Hossain, a resident from Dania area at Jatrabari in the capital, told The Business Standard that three of his four-member family had been infected with dengue. All were admitted to Mitford Hospital.
"My wife Asma Akhter, 45, was diagnosed at first on 19 July. After undergoing treatment she is now in good health. Later, son Nur and daughter Sabikunnahar, 9, tested positive for dengue. I have been in the hospital with them since 24 July. The condition of the little girl is a little worse. Her temperature is hovering between 102 and 105 degrees."
Sadeq Hossain said, "Mosquito infestation in our house is increasing day by day due to abandoned land, ponds and unhygienic roads around the house. The city corporation sprays mosquito repellent once or twice a month. Even then, they do not spray at every nook and corner. Mosquitoes breed in several places in the vicinity of our house. The city corporation pretends not to see this."
Md Kalu Hawladar, a resident of Bangshal area in Old Dhaka, has been admitted to Mitford Hospital being infected with dengue. He said, "I went to my ancestral home at Madaripur from Dhaka on the day before Eid. Two days after the Eid day, I started suffering from high fever. After taking medicines prescribed by a local doctor, I was not cured. The doctor then advised me to get tested for dengue. Later, I returned to Dhaka by an ambulance. After visiting three hospitals, I finally got admitted here."
"I live on the fourth floor of a building at Bangshal. Even after using mosquito-net, it is difficult to live there. Roads are being dug around the house. Whenever it rains, water-logging is created which turns into the breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes," he added.
The highest number of dengue patients is admitted to Mitford Hospital in Dhaka. In the hospital, 36 new dengue patients were admitted in 24 hours till 8am on Thursday, increasing the total number of dengue patients in the hospital to 96.
Deputy Director of the hospital Mohammad Ali Habib Thursday told TBS that the pressure of patients is constantly increasing. "Today we have finalised the preparations for dedicating one unit of the hospital for the treatment of dengue patients only. From the beginning of the next week, dengue patients will be treated at that particular unit. At present, dengue patients are admitted to different units," he said.
According to the DGHS, 32 dengue patients were identified in January this year, 9 in February, 13 in March, 3 in April and 43 in May. The number of dengue patients multiplied several times in June when 272 patients were infected with dengue.
Meanwhile, the city dwellers are not getting much benefit from the combing operations and awareness activities to eradicate Aedes mosquito, carried out in different areas every day by the two city corporations of Dhaka. Owners of various buildings are being fined several lakh taka every day through mobile court raids, but without any visible result.
Health experts say it will not be easy to get rid of dengue without taking concerted action with the city dwellers.
Professor Dr Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director (Disease Control) of DGHS, told TBS, "It is not possible to control dengue by visiting one or two areas a day. This requires public participation. A committee consisting of building owners and ward residents should work to control dengue. It is not possible to control Aedes mosquitoes by red-marking one or two houses."
He said as a result of unplanned urbanisation in our country, dengue infection was increasing. Now the most urgent thing is to bring dengue under control through joint initiatives.
The public health expert said it was possible to reduce infections in a short time if a public awareness programme was taken up on an urgent basis with the participation of the country's entomologists to control Aedes mosquitoes.
Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Mohammad Atiqul Islam said Aedes mosquitoes, dengue and chikungunya need to be controlled by keeping the homes and surroundings clean and tidy. In order to ensure that no one dies of dengue and chikungunya, public awareness activities are being carried out simultaneously in 54 wards of 10 areas of Dhaka North City Corporation from 27 July to 7 August.
He informed that free dengue testing has been arranged in 44 urban health centres in DNCC.
Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said, "We cannot climb on people's roofs. These have to be cleaned by the building owners. We are trying our best to control dengue."
Addressing the building owners, he said, "If you cannot clean the buildings, let us know. We will come and clean it. Give information before becoming a patient."