Although chief minister Mamata Banerjee recently played down the dengue scourge in the city and accused the media of spreading panic, the Union health ministry is alarmed at the outbreak and has rushed an experts' team to Kolkata to provide technical help to the struggling administration.
Thethree-memberteam from the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) reached Kolkata on Wednesday and met experts of the School of Tropical Medicine to take stock of the situation in the city. They also visited the city's central and southern parts to check the situation on the ground.
"We've visited some places, but we have no revelations to make. We'll submit the report to the state government and the NVBDCP," Onkarnath Chatterjee, additional director, NVBDCP, who is leading the team, said.
Dengue is raging unabated in Kolkata. With three more unconfirmed dengue deaths during the day, the toll in Kolkata has risen to 24, although the state government maintains that only three have died of the disease statewide.
"Under instructions from Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, a team comprising Dr Onkarnath Chatterjee, Dr Kalpana Baruah and Dr Puspita Banerjee, the two joint directors of the programme, rushed to Kolkata on Tuesday evening," Dr AC Dhariwal, NVBDCP director, told Hindustan Times.
"The dengue outbreak in Bengal is alarming, but hasn't taken the form of an epidemic so far. Our team members, who are all dengue experts, will provide the Bengal government all kinds of assistance on diagnosis and awareness of the disease, besides other technical aspects. They'll also visit the dengueafflicted areas," Dhariwal said.
A top official of the emergency medical relief department under the Union ministry of health said in Delhi, "NVBDCP officials have already spoken to Chandrima Bhattacharjee, minister of state for health. We're sending rapid diagnosis kits to carry out serological tests for dengue infection to Bengal."
"The experts are choosing the areas they want to visit. We've just deployed one of our officials to help them locate those areas," a senior health department official said.
Mamata's deputy in the health department declined comment on this on Wednesday.