With two more deaths and 14 new confirmed cases of dengue reported on Thursday, the administration in SAS Nagar came under severe scrutiny for its failure to prepare for or control the viral outbreak. The total number of patients from the district undergoing treatment now is 884, which is already a 63% rise from last year’s 544.
“We have received information of suspected dengue death of a patient, Kamalpreet (61) of Kharar, from Fortis Hospital but we are still to get the reports,” said Ranjit Guru, the civil surgeon. Another 18-month-old patient, identified as Naina from SAS Nagar, died of dengue at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, late on Wednesday night. Now, as per the health authorities, seven deaths have been confirmed to having been caused by dengue, while confirmation of two was awaited. As for chikungunya, there are three confirmed cases so far.
Delay in purchasing medicine for fogging
The anti-mosquito fogging started in May, but for a month before that the fogging did not have the required medicine that is spread along with the smoke. The anti-dengue fogging took place only after mid-August. The delay on the part of the municipal corporation was because of objection by some councillors over allegedly high price.
It was in April that the MC had purchased a small quantity of the medicine from a local supplier, at which councillors took the issue to the finance and contract committee (F&CC) meeting the same month. It was then decided to purchase the medicine in accordance with a notification by the Punjab government, which had identified a supplier for the entire state.
“The medicine was being purchased at higher rates thus we had objected, which resulted in delay in purchase,” said Kuljit Singh Bedi, Congress councillor.
Fogging was intensified from Wednesday after intervention of deputy commissioner DS Mangat, who directed the MC to provide a roster for carrying out fogging, besides a weekly report. The civil Surgeon had earlier in August written to the MC for the same.
Deputy mayor Manjit Singh Sethi said, “There has been lack of co-ordination. The civil surgeon had suggested a weekly cycle for fogging, while the MC employees were following a 10-12-day cycle and that, too, fogging once a day. Moreover, no information in this regard was being provided to the civil surgeon. But now we are carrying out fogging three times a day.”
Some experts also blame residents. The vector (mosquito) breeds in clean water and, despite awareness drives, residents have failed to cooperate. District authorities had declared Friday a dry day but it was not implemented.
“If the residents wear full sleeves and keep their air-coolers dry, the spread of these diseases can be checked. Despite awareness announcements at religious places, in many localities the residents are not co-operating,” said Avtar Singh, a city-based epidemiologist.