• Saturday, Jul 04, 2020
  • Last Update : 03:06 am

A looming dengue outbreak in the midst of a pandemic?

  • Published at 05:06 pm May 9th, 2020
WEB_Aedes-mosquito_Dengue_Bigstock_Edited_31.07.2018
Aedes mosquito Bigstock

'Our team forecasted the third week of May to be the peak time when Covid-19 cases may exceed 50,000'

Experts warn that a dengue outbreak could be looming in Bangladesh in June when limited medical capacity to deal with it, when all resources have been focused on mitigating Sars-Cov2. 

Dr Tarek Hossain, former coordinator of Unicef, Bangladesh, said: “A sharp rise of dengue disease will be reported at the beginning of June, as the whole of May will see monsoon downpours.”

Referring to an internal report by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), he said dengue outbreak could be at the same level as it was in 2019, as the probability of lower occurrence is highly unlikely to happen.”

But Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the IEDCR, said even though dengue cases will rise again this year from the beginning of June the outbreak will not be severe as last year. 

“Dengue cases will gradually rise from June as it is connected to rain. On the other hand, as many Dhaka residents moved to villages due to Covid-19, there is a high chance that dengue breeding will take places in their locked homes,” she said.

Many apartment complexes are under complete lockdown due to Covid-19, and mosquito spray will not allowed inside. Many under construction projects both private and public are out of maintenance, that can also be another cause of spread of dengue, Meerjady added.    

“We expect that the severity of dengue will be lesser than the last year for two reasons -- one reason is a proportion of individuals are immune to the disease as massive outbreak occurred last year and secondly, from an epidemiological view, viral diseases are usually not severe in back to back years,” the IEDCR director told Dhaka Tribune on Thursday.

Health experts predict the peak of Covid-19 infection period in the country will be in the third week of May, before the number of cases begins to drop by the end of June.

“Our team forecasted the third week of May to be the peak time when Covid-19 cases may exceed 50,000,” Prof Shah Monir Hossain, a member of the team of health experts formed by the government to analyze the trend of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, said.

 “A sharp fall of Covid-19 cases could be expected by the end of June,” he added.

‘Multi sector cooperation vital to control dengue’

“I think, operational preparations should be strengthened and multi sector cooperation is vital to control dengue,” said Dr Tarek. 

“We must also focus our efforts on environmental management and solid waste management,” he added. 

Last year alone, the number of dengue incidents broke all previous records of the past two decades.

In comparison to last year, dengue cases are increasing alarmingly. Bangladesh recorded 131 cases by the first four months in 2019, and this year 296 cases were recorded in the same time, according to data from Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). 

Two new cases were recorded in the first week of May.

Measuring the situation, the government has taken initiatives in advance this year, but many of the initiatives have yet not come into effect due to Covid-19 outbreak globally. 

Campaign against dengue not implemented due to Covid-19

A massive campaign designed by the regulatory bodies to control dengue which could not be properly implemented due to Covid-19. 

Destroying larvae of aedes mosquitoes is still being done at many places as authorities’ vectoring is interrupted due to Covid-19. 

In 2019, breaking all previous records since 2000, the year when the dengue outbreak was documented for the first time in Bangladesh, a staggering total of 101,334 people were hospitalized across the country until December 29, 2019, according to DGHS.

DGHS measures to curb dengue

A meeting via video conference was held at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Saturday chaired by DGHS Director General Dr Abul Kalam Azad to discuss the situation and measures for proper dengue management.

All civil surgeons of the districts and health officials of upazilas attended the meeting where necessary instructions were issued to the health officials on dengue management.

“We will have to be aware as the time for dengue infections has arrived. Since fever is a common symptom for both dengue and Covid-19 patients, instructions have been issued to the health officials to test suspects with dengue, while testing for Covid-19,” DGHS Additional Director General (Administration) Prof Nasima Sultana said while speaking at the daily online bulletin on Covid-19 situation.

We have asked to keep teams ready for dengue management in districts and upazilas across Bangladesh, she said.

National Malaria Elimination & Aedes Transmitted Diseases committee of DGHS already distributed necessary dengue detection kits in districts and more will be supplied if needed, added the additional DG.

She also said instructions have been issued to provide dengue related support from the hotlines now being used for providing suggestions on the Covid-19 disease.

At scale dengue tests to starts today

The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) will start of dengue tests on scale from today.

According to a DNCC press release, dengue test and primary treatment will be available at 27 centres in Dhaka north. These centres are the five Nagar Matrisadan Kendra and 22 Nagar Public Health Centres. 

Tests will be run between 9am to 2pm for everyone free of cost. DNCC has already sent necessary testing kits to the designated centres. 

The result of the test can be immediately known after the test. 

DNCC will also operate mobile courts from Sunday at households and under construction buildings to make sure no breeding ground is left for the aedes.

Besides, the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) is still prioritizing vector control rather than massive tests as the corporation is too busy to deal Covid-19 patients at their hospitals. 

DSCC Chief Health Officer Brig Gen Md Sharif Ahmed, BSP said: “We are conducting drives to control the vector, a method to limit or eradicate the insects (mosquito). 

“We may start dengue tests next month as vector control is the main priority now,” he said.

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