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Ten deaths in the state have been linked to heatwaves so far, with the latest victim a 45-year-old Chandrapur resident. Advent of higher temperatures since March, which the state health department had expected only from mid-April, have led to the hospitalisation of at least 29 patients, with complaints of high body temperatures and dehydration.
The state health department has recorded one death each in Jalgaon and Chandrapur in April, while eight others were recorded in March. On Monday, the state health department confirmed the death of Harun Shaikh Mohammed Shaikh, from Gondpipri, from a heat stroke. He was admitted in Chandrapur District Hospital on April 13 with severe dehydration and high body temperature. He passed away the same day, a health official said, adding that autopsy reports Monday confirmed he succumbed to a heat stroke.
“So far, we have been able to confirm four deaths. Six other deaths are suspected due to heat stroke, which need further investigations,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state epidemiologist, adding, “What is important now is to sensitise people through ASHA and multi purpose workers on key measures to avoid a heat stroke.”
For this, the 12 districts in focus are Akola, Aurangabad, Beed, Gadchiroli, Jalgaon, Jalna, Latur, Nashik, Solapur, Yavatmal, Pune and Chandrapur, where temperatures have soared over 40 degrees in the past few weeks. In several districts, authorities are issuing warnings and advisories to residents through radio spots and posters in government buildings, schools and healthcare centres.
Beed district Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the advisories mainly request people not to wander in the heat, to undertake heavy manual labour only in the early morning and late evening hours, to cover their heads with white cloth or caps whenever they step outdoors, etc. “We see such heat usually in the month of May. It’s unusual for us to experience such weather in end -March and April,” Ram said. “We’re telling people not to venture outdoors between noon and 3 pm unless absolutely necessary.” A five-year-old boy reportedly died in Wadvani town in Beed district owing to heat-related factors, but the collector said they are yet to ascertain the exact cause of the death.
There is, for the present, no water crisis owing to the good monsoon of 2016, but officials anticipate demands for water tankers to emerge during the coming weeks.
In Chandrapur, Parbhani and Latur, where municipal elections are scheduled on April 19, the election commission has extended time for voters to 6.30 pm, from 5.30 pm.
“We usually come across deaths due to heat from April. Eight deaths in March are worrying,” said Dr Mukund S Diggikar, from Directorate Health Services. Wards in government hospitals have been installed with coolers, special window shields that can retain cool water, facility for blood pressure, thermometer and body coolants.
Of the 29 patients hospitalised for heat stroke, state officials claim 10 passed away. The 108 emergency ambulance service has recorded 1,142 cases of hyperthermia in March alone, where patients were given treatment in the ambulance itself. Very few of these required hospitalisation. The ambulance service data also shows a rise in hyperthermia cases, with a total of 1,255 patients treated between April till May in 2015 as opposed to 1,142 treated in only March this year.