Delhi is in the middle of a dengue epidemic but the state health department and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) are in denial.
The MCD confirmed 26 new cases of dengue on Friday, taking the total number of infected case to 348 — six times higher than the worst dengue attack in the last five years.
Till August 20, Delhi had recorded just three cases in 2009 and 54 cases in 2008, when a total of 1,513 and 1,312 people got infected in the two years respectively.
"The MCD only reports a case if dengue serology test is positive but that comes positive only after the fifth or the seventh day. The real numbers could well be four to five times higher," said Dr Sanjeev Bagai, CEO and senior paediatrician at Batra Hospital.
The area gets about 40 positive cases in a day, which is twice the number that the civic agency reports in a day from the entire city.
"Ten years ago we'd still have been doubtful. But for the last so many years we have treated so many dengue cases that if we suspect a case to be of dengue, it usually turns out to be true," said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
Data from the top 10 private and government hospitals also indicate that the numbers are far higher than reported.
About 300 suspected cases of dengue are admitted at various hospitals including AIIMS, Safdarjung, Lok Nayak, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Apollo, Max, Fortis, Moolchand Medcity and Ganga Ram.
The number is just a small fraction of the total number of cases that visit hospital out patient department (OPD) with dengue-like symptoms.
"Till two weeks ago I would see about 75 patients with dengue-like symptoms in the OPD and now the figures have suddenly doubled to 150. About 15 out of them test positive," said Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, director, institute of internal medicine, Max Hospital.
Doctors at other hospitals and clinics also claim 10 to 15 suspected cases every day turn positive after the dengue test, which makes the numbers go up by at least three times as compared to 20-25 figure that the MCD reports in a day.
"We must not look at the number of people affected, rather the mortality rate. Dengue is a worldwide problem but we have managed to curb the mortality rate pretty well," said R.P. Vashisth, chief co-ordinator of Delhi government's rapid action task force.