Eight hundred and thirty one confirmed cases and counting — the fear of dengue has gripped Delhi, sending people rushing to hospitals at the first signs of fever.
Most private hospitals are running at 100% occupancy, while some have been forced to add temporary beds to accommodate patients refusing to leave.
“Most people have panicked so much that they are not willing to listen to reason: admission is only needed only if the blood pressure plummets or the platelet level fall below 50,000. We don’t even have place for them to sit here now,” says Dr RK Singal, director, department of internal medicine, BLK super-speciality Hospital in Karol Bagh.
Over the last week, BLK hospital has been getting about 100 suspected cases of dengue each day, of which only nearly 60% cases turn out to be positive after tests. Even though just 10% of those who test positive need hospitalization, the hospital staff is having a hard time convincing people that it is safe for them to go home.
“All people need to do is get their platelet count measured twice a day and reach a hospital if it goes under 50,000, where it can be more closely tracked. A lot of our time and energy is wasted in calming people down. I would say 10% of people genuinely require hospitalization, while about 30% just build unnecessary pressure. Purely due to panic, the 80% occupancy till last week has turned into 110% occupancy in our hospital now,” says Dr Singal, who said that his hospital had to add beds.
Dr RN Kalra, medical director, Kalra Hospital in Kirti Nagar in west Delhi agrees that most people were thronging hospitals out of fear. “We only admit patients who are very symptomatic and show an indication to bleed. Our bed occupancy is 100% currently.”
The numbers of cases are almost as high as 2010 when Delhi saw its worst ever dengue outbreak. “October, especially the 2nd and 3rd week, is when dengue peaks so the numbers are going to increase further in coming months, till winter sets in around November,” says Dr Ekta Gupta, additional professor, department of virology at Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences. “Though ours is a liver hospital, we are also getting a couple of dengue positive cases daily,” Dr Gupta adds.
Srikant Sharma, senior consulting physician, Moolchand Hospital says, “Last year we had seen just six dengue positive cases in August but this year we tested 156 positive cases. Most of them came with high grade fever, severe headache, low platelet count and recurrent vomiting; the serious ones come with skin rashes, blood in stool and low blood pressure.”
“The cases are going up every week, and it’s just the beginning,” he added.