As many as 29 dengue cases were confirmed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in the week ending July 30, taking Delhi-NCR’s total count to 119.
This is more than twice the number of cases confirmed during Delhi’s worst-ever dengue outbreak in 2015, which affected 16,000 people and killed 60. About 53 confirmed cases were recorded back then.
The actual number of dengue cases, however, is likely to be much higher – given that the Safdarjung Hospital itself has confirmed 144 till now. Even the name of a 17-year-old girl from Jafrabad in northeast Delhi, who died due to dengue shock syndrome (according to her death certificate), has not been included in MCD records.
Dengue is a viral infection spread through the bite of the aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in clean water. This year, a disproportionately high number of people afflicted with dengue have been pouring into Delhi for treatment. Only 49 of the 119 dengue patients listed by the MCD were found to be from Delhi, compared to 48 of the total 53 cases in 2015.
Anticipating a sharp rise in dengue patients over the next few weeks, the Delhi government on Monday permitted all hospitals and nursing homes to increase the bed strength by 10-20% for three months. “We have been focussing on breeding-control measures till now, but with the onset of the monsoon, we will also focus on curative measures. But as only 49 of the dengue cases are from Delhi, there is no need to panic,” said a health department official.
If most hospitals increase their bed strength by 10%, the city’s existing count of 48,096 beds will go up to nearly 52,100. Hospitals and nursing homes have been instructed that no fever or dengue patient should be denied admission.
The government also plans to set up 335 24x7 ‘fever corners’ at hospitals and mohalla clinics, up from 55 last year. The sale of blood-thinning drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and diclofenac has been restricted till October because they are known to aggravate dengue-associated bleeding. These will now be available only through a doctor’s prescription.
While the price for NSI Ag and Elisa MAC tests – required for detecting dengue – has been capped at Rs 600, a platelet count would cost Rs 50.
The MCD has also intensified its breeding-control measures. The authorities have identified three metro projects, half-a-dozen schools, the Commonwealth Games Complex, Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital and GB Pant Hospital, among others, as high-risk areas.