Delhi is not in the grip of a dengue epidemic. But if the situation does not improve in another couple of days, it will be.
"If the spread of the outbreak is not contained by Tuesday, we will declare an epidemic," said Delhi health minister Yoganand Shastri on Sunday even as the government constituted a special task force to assist the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in containing the disease, which has claimed 11 lives in the capital.
The aim of the task force would be to ensure that water does not stagnate in the city and create more awareness about the preventive measures.
"We have already deployed an additional 2,400 officials to contain the outbreak," the health minister said after attending a high-level meeting convened by Delhi Lt Governor BL Joshi.
Apart from Joshi and Shastri, principal secretary (health) DS Negi, MCD commissioner AK Nigam, municipal health officer NK Yadav and health officials attended the meeting.
The verdict on the situation was grim. The officials warned that the situation could worsen in the next two weeks as the weather suits the breeding of the female Aedes mosquito.
The health minister, however, said there was no cause for Delhiites to panic. "As of now 448 cases of dengue have been reported of which 201 were from outside Delhi — 118 from Uttar Pradesh and 40 from Haryana. Effectively there are just 247 cases from Delhi." Last Sunday, the reported figure was 327, which rose to 448 in a week — a jump of 121 cases in just a week. By contrast, only 160 cases of dengue were reported till September last year.
Shastri said a massive public awareness campaign, intensified door-to-door searches for dengue breeding conditions and fogging would be carried out by the MCD. "All hospitals have arranged blood and platelets for treating the dengue patients," he said. There was no reason to press the panic button as several effective steps have been taken, besides the ones already in place to deal with the situation, Shastri told reporters.
Municipal Health Officer NK Yadav said checks at homes, offices, commercial centres and other places where dengue mosquitoes can breed are being carried out. The MCD has booked eight city hospitals, both private and government, for not maintaining cleanliness in the midst of the dengue outbreak, he said.
Meanwhile, a day after a student died of the disease at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, another doctor, AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association president Kumar Harsh, was diagnosed with dengue fever on Sunday. He is not suffering from the deadly Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. At the hospital, 36 patients, are undergoing treatment for dengue. On Saturday, the figure was 22.
However, officials at AIIMS said none of them were serious. The hospital held an emergency meeting to take stock of the situation on campus.