The official death toll in Tripura after the outbreak of malaria reached 45 on Tuesday. Among the deceased at least 30 are children and most of them are under 10 years of age.
Confirming this, state health minister Badal Choudhury said nearly 23,000 people, mainly belonging to tribal communities, have been affected across three districts — Dhalai, Gomati and South Tripura. He added that Tripura was afflicted with malaria after a gap of four years.
“Reports of at least two deaths have come in Tuesday, while majority of the victims since the first death on June 10 are children and elderly people. Teams of doctors, nurses and paramedics have been fanned out to the three affected districts and volunteers have been going from house to house in the hilly areas to track down every suffering person,” Choudhury told The Indian Express over the telephone from Agartala.
The state government Tuesday also constituted a team to find out why malaria hit Tripura after four years and asked the experts to find out why majority of the dead were children.
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar also directed 11 of his ministers to camp in those districts to oversee the treatment and surveillance work. Special check-up camps are also being organised to conduct blood test and spread awareness .
In the worst-affected district of Dhalai, more than 80 doctors and about 150 nurses have been pressed into service to handle the situation made worse by difficult terrain, almost cut off completely by roads damaged by incessant monsoon showers. Officials said normal vehicles are unable to reach many parts of the largely tribal region and special four-wheelers are being used to ferry personnel and medicines.
Meanwhile, the Centre has sent a team of specialists from New Delhi, and it has been visiting the affected districts to supervise the treatment and surveillance works. Two experts from the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme are also camping in Agartala.
Chouhdury said a massive drive to spray DDT and provide preventive medicine was also on to combat the malaria outbreak.