Against the backdrop of several depressing news regarding the ongoing dengue outbreak, the plain confession of the DSCC mayor is undoubtedly praiseworthy. Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said last Wednesday that around 40 per cent of the total dengue patients in the capital have been detected in Dhaka South City Corporation. To back the information he referred to the government's health agency DGHS. The mayor was speaking at an inter-ministerial meeting on Wednesday. His forthright admission on the percentage of patients elucidates the deteriorating dengue situation in Dhaka. But the mayor has sounded hopeful of the start of a dengue remission phase after a decrease in the intensity of the ongoing monsoon rain.
That there are few spaces for complacency vis-à-vis the dengue situation becomes clear from some recent developments. It began with identification of 19 dengue hotspots in the capital last week. The health directorate has detected high presence of dengue larvae in these areas. The places are located in both DSCC and DNCC (Dhaka North City Corporation). The authorities concerned declared the hotspots `extremely vulnerable' to dengue outbreak due to the high presence of the dengue vector Aedes Aegyptie mosquitoes. Nearly two months into the outbreak, amid the corona pandemic, a most troubling feature of dengue has started emerging. Unlike in the past, the often-fearful dengue this year is not sparing children, and even babies as young as 9 months old. A considerably wide space at Dhaka Shishu Hospital is occupied by dengue-stricken children. The hospital has lately been found grappling with their child patients in need of special kind of treatment. On August 22, the number of children receiving dengue treatment stood at 80. It was the highest number after the treatment of 69 children on a single day in 2019. In that year dengue had spread in Dhaka and the nearby areas in a frightening intensity, the number of deaths hitting 179.
The reason both the parents and doctors feel helpless with the child dengue patients is their inability to realise the graveness of the situation. That children should not move around puddle-filled areas in pre-evening times and they should keep their legs covered while in these places is often hard to make them understand. Amid the continued rise in dengue patients in general, in Dhaka in particular, hospital admission of child patients is becoming a cause for concern. According to an epidemiologist, 356 children have received treatment at the specialised Shishu Hospital for children. Of them six died. It has been learnt from reliable sources that 58.5 per cent dengue child patients were from the DNCC area, and 31.5 per cent from the DSCC zone; the rest being from areas outside Dhaka. Given the fast-increasing trend in people affected with dengue, experts fear further increase in the number of patients in a couple of weeks. Already over forty dengue patients have died. The deaths occurred mainly in July and August. This year the number of patients from areas outside Dhaka is also higher. Apart from child patients, another upsetting feature in the current year is the prevalence of elderly dengue patients.
According to reliable sources, out of over 9,000 dengue-infected patients this year, around 1,100 are still under treatment at hospitals in Dhaka, and 100 outside the capital. To get upset and confounded never helps. In the case of dengue, it is increased awareness and community sensitisation which emerges as the most effective remedy.