Four dengue deaths and as many as 1158 dengue and 1057 chikungunya cases have been reported in the national capital till September 10, though their number was “less” than last year due to “preparatory activities”, AAP Government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday. The government denied claims that Delhi was facing the “worst dengue crisis” and said they have taken a slew of measures to control these vector-borne diseases, it said in an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal.
It said strict surveillance of preparedness and impact of these diseases have been carried out for taking further preventive measures as, due to environmental conditions, the number of diseases like dengue, chikungunya and malaria “shows upswing during July to October”.
“The core mandate of GNCTD is to ameliorate the duress, reduce uncertainty in the mind of citizens and provide immediate and high quality health care whenever any patient presents with symptoms of vector-borne diseases.
“Owing to early start of preparatory activities of GNCTD, this core mandate has been effectively discharged. Number of dengue fever cases reported are less in comparison to previous year in spite of early and more rainfall this year,” the affidavit said.
Maintaining that four deaths have been reported due to dengue, the government said till September 10 this year, 1158 dengue cases were reported, out of which 804 patients are Delhi residents while 354 are out of Delhi.
It said 1057 cases of chikungunya were also reported but no death has been attributed to this disease till September 10 as per the report of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC).
During the hearing, petitioner advocate Shahid Ali claimed that a number of deaths have been reported due to chikungunya and the Delhi government was saying that people should ask the Lieutenant Governor (LG) about it.
Delhi government’s senior standing counsel Rahul Mehra said they have done everything based on the experience of last year and released funds to the civic bodies in advance to combat the situation.
The bench, after the hearing, asked the petitioner to come up with suggestions on the steps required to be taken in this regard and fixed the matter for orders on September 20.
“We will consider all the aspects and pass orders. If we are not satisfied, we may again call the government,” the bench said. In its affidavit, the government said that guidelines and advisories were circulated to sentinel surveillance hospitals (SSHs), dispensaries and mohalla clinics, which have been asked to notify confirmed cases of chikungunya to integrated disease surveillance project portal on a weekly basis.
It said after analysing the data of confirmed dengue cases and “on the basis of last year’s data, high risk areas have been identified for surveillance activities and preventive and control measures and further forwarded to the nodal agencies (three MCDs, NDMC and Cantt board) for taking preventive steps, anti-larvicidal measures and anti-mosquito measures.” Regarding fogging, the government said it has to be done by the MCDs.
“Presence of vector larvae in small containers and pits where fresh water may accumulate and stay undisturbed is the biggest cause of spread of dengue/chikungunya. The efforts to combat vector-borne diseases have faced bottlenecks due to limited capacity of local bodies for management of solid waste disposal,” it said.
Construction sites were potential locations where water accumulation may take place and to combat this problem, a campaign to visit various sites has been started by the government, it said, adding that workshops have been organised to sensitise doctors of Aam Aadmi Mohalla clinics about dengue control and management.
“Over the counter sale of NSAID drugs, which includes disclofenac, ibuprofen, aspirin etc has been restricted by R-1 (GNCTD),” the affidavit said, adding “selling price of dengue and chikungunya testing is at Rs 600 and platelets count at Rs 50 has been fixed for private laboratories and hospitals to reduce the economic burden.”
It claimed that preparatory work was started well in time in March this year and all hospitals had been directed to prepare a platelet registry and maintain adequate amount of blood in their blood banks.
The government further said that additional 1000 beds have been dedicated for fever patients in three major hospitals — Rajiv Gandhi Super speciality hospital, Janakpuri Super speciality hospital, Deep Chand Bandhu hospital — which have been designated as the nodal hospitals.
The affidavit said Delhi Government health department has allowed private hospitals/nursing homes to increase the bed strength by upto 10 to 20 per cent of their approved bed strength on a temporary basis for three months to combat the situation.
The high court had earlier asked the AAP government to inform it about the action they have taken to combat the vector-borne diseases here.
The civic bodies had told the court that their public health departments were taking all measures for prevention and control of dengue, chikungunya and malaria in their areas.
In his plea, the petitioner has alleged that despite a large number of cases of dengue being reported this year, the authorities have not been “rising up and taking measures to prevent the disease or mosquito breeding”.
The plea has not only sought an order to Delhi government and statutory bodies to control the menace but also initiation of an inquiry as to whether they could have controlled the menace and prevented breeding of mosquitoes. Earlier, a similar plea was filed in which the bench has reserved its verdict.