The capital has been witnessing a downward trend in the number of dengue cases over the last five years, with the lowest till date reported this September. But this year, house visits to check mosquito breeding and prosecution against people (a maximum fine of Rs 500) in whose homes breeding of larva is found has also fallen sharply — primarily due to the pandemic.
Delhi has seen 131 cases of the vector-borne disease till September 12, lowest since 2016.
House visits, meanwhile, have dropped by over a crore as compared to the previous year. Last year, 2.4 crore house visits were done till September 12 as opposed to 1.4 crore this year. Prosecutions against violators fell from 10,321 last year to 3,359 this year in the corresponding period.
As per MCD data, between January 1 and second week of September this year, the number of houses sprayed with disinfectants saw only a marginal dip as compared to last year. While 5.95 lakh houses were disinfected by this time last year, 5.80 lakh houses were covered till the second week of September this year despite several workers being diverted to carry out Covid-control exercises.
With rise in Covid cases, the entire staff from civic bodies and state health department — closely linked to the anti-dengue programme — has been diverted towards prevention of the disease, which has claimed 4,877 lives in Delhi. “A majority of the workforce from three MCDs was deployed to carry out thermal screening, door-to-door survey and sanitisation amid Covid. Since there was complete lockdown, domestic breeding checkers and other staff were not allowed to enter homes to check mosquito breeding,” said a senior MCD official.
According to officials, while carrying out sanitisation during the initial months of the pandemic, municipal staff was also asked to spray disinfectant. “This has led to the control of dengue,” said Narender Chawla, leader of the house, South MCD.
Most dengue cases are usually reported between mid-July and November-end. Depending on the weather, this may stretch to mid-December. The Delhi government begins its awareness programmes in March and recruits volunteers from the community to ensure there is no breeding. After a massive outbreak in 2015-2016, it has been more focused on awareness campaigns as a part of preventive measures.
The government recently started its ‘10 Hafte, 10 Baje, 10 Minute’ campaign, where people are asked to clean out any stagnant water in their houses.
With dengue cases increasing slowly, doctors are having a tough time due to similar lab parameters and overlapping initial clinical presentations such as fever, sore throat and body ache. Over the past few days, some cases where a patient has both Covid and dengue have been observed. This will create more pressure on an already overburdened health system, said doctors. “Treatment with low molecular weight heparin for Covid management may enhance bleeding in presence of dengue, especially with low platelet count,” said Dr Ashutosh Biswas, professor of medicine, AIIMS.
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