Delhi adds 1,100+ dengue cases to tally, 3 deaths take toll to 9
The Capital added three dengue deaths to the city’s toll over the past week, as fresh infections more than doubled in the same period, according to the weekly report released by the city’s civic bodies on Monday.
The city’s dengue tally crossed the 2,000 mark, as civic bodies added 1,171 infections on Monday, taking the year’s caseload to 2,708. The city added 531 deaths for the week between October 24 and 30.
Nine people have died of the infection in the city this year. Six of them are children, said officials.
Two of the three victims added to the city’s toll on Monday were below 18 – a three-year old girl from Saurabh Vihar (near Jaitpur) and a 12-year-old boy from Durga Vihar (near Sangam Vihar). Four of the five deaths recorded last week were also children.
Experts say that this is because children are more likely to get the infection and suffer severe symptoms.
“A higher proportion of dengue deaths in children is a reflection of a larger proportion of cases among them. Children between ages 8 and 15 are more likely to get the infection as they step out to play and go to school — exposing their chances of getting a mosquito bite. Children below the age of five do not usually get the infection because they mostly stay indoors,” said Dr Krishan Chugh, director of Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram.
He added, “They are also more likely to die because their immune system is not fine-tuned and can react incorrectly, causing death, liver failure, and other such complications.”
The dengue tally this year is on course to eclipse the 2018 number, when the city recorded 2,798 cases, and the toll is now the highest since 2017, when 10 died of the infection. Delhi reported its worst dengue outbreak in 2015, when 16,000 people were infected and at least 60 died, according to official records.
There was only one dengue death in New Delhi last year, two in 2019 and four in 2018, showed the records.
The nine deaths so far have all been recorded in September and October. But, to be sure, these are only disclosed later after a Delhi panel confirms their deaths were caused due to the vector-borne disease, and that the victims belonged to the city.
The three deaths reported on Monday were among the nine being investigated by a death audit panel. According to senior officials from the municipal corporations, the panel is investigating a further 34 deaths from city hospitals. The other deaths that were confirmed to be caused
“Most of the victims [those not added to the city’s death toll] outside Delhi, and came to the city to be treated. Most people who travel to Delhi for treatment reach by the time they have severe symptoms, and are more likely to die,” said the official.
Dr Virendra Singh, professor, department of paediatrics, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital said the hospital has this year seen a comparatively larger number of children die of the infection, especially kids from Uttar Pradesh.
“We are seeing otherwise healthy children being admitted with the infection, rapidly deteriorating and dying. Most of them die of multi-organ dysfunction and circulatory shock,” he said.
With dengue cases on the rise, the Delhi government in mid-October made all vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, and chikungunya notifiable, meaning all hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres have to mandatorily report the cases. This was a long pending decision, with the capital aiming to eliminate malaria by 2022.
Delhi government officials said they were using the provisions of new notification to ask hospitals for data on all fever cases along with hospital beds available for them to ascertain the availability of beds and the need for escalation.
South Delhi mayor Mukesh Suryan laid the blame for the dengue deaths on the Delhi government.
“The onus of all the [dengue] deaths recorded in Delhi so far this year lies with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-ruled Delhi government. Despite a huge surge in dengue cases this year, we don’t have any funds to tackle this situation. It is really sad that three people lost their lives due to dengue. It was the responsibility of the state government to save their lives,” he said.
Refuting Suryan’s allegations, Prem Chouhan, the leader of opposition in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), said municipal bodies were responsible for the control of vector-borne diseases in their jurisdictions.
“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led municipal bodies want to hide all their failures, blaming the Arvind Kejriwal government. Neither do they want to perform, nor do they let others perform. Forget about government, every worker of our party is ensuring repeated fogging in all critical areas,” he said.
Abhishek Dutt, the Congress leader and Andrews Ganj councillor, accused both BJP and AAP of the failure in tackling the spread of dengue in Delhi. “The fact is that neither of these parties can turn their back on their responsibilities. Instead of diverting the attention of the people with their catfight, they must perform at the ground level for the people’s suffering. Our party workers are repeatedly fogging on bikes and bicycles in different areas,” he said.