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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Mosquito-borne diseases emerge as fresh concern in Delhi, officials say many cases untraced

Till May 2, 16 malaria cases were reported — the highest in the corresponding period in the last five years. Thirteen dengue cases and 10 of chikungunya have also been reported.

Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi | Published: May 6, 2020 7:54:31 am
A South Delhi MCD worker sanitises shops at Ashram Tuesday. Several civic body workers are on COVID-19 duty. Anil Sharma

Even as the Delhi government and healthcare workers tackle the COVID-19 pandemic — with cases crossing 5,000 — vector-borne diseases have emerged as another concern. During a meeting with Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan Tuesday, on preparedness to handle vector-borne diseases, Delhi government officials were directed to focus on passive surveillance, early detection, and complete treatment of cases.

Till May 2, 16 malaria cases were reported — the highest in the corresponding period in the last five years. Only two malaria cases were reported till May in 2019. Thirteen dengue cases and 10 of chikungunya have also been reported. In 2019, 8 dengue and 4 chikungunya cases were reported during this period.

Top officials, however, raised concerns over untraced cases of vector-borne diseases, stating that of the total dengue cases in the city, almost 70% are either from outside or untraced. About 65% of chikungunya cases and around 56% of malaria cases are untraced, they said. “This hampers tracing. Line listing of cases is important and all patients should be traced back to their respective states,” said a senior official from the Ministry, at the meeting.

Officials from Delhi also raised concerns over movement of their employees from states like Haryana and UP. A district commissioner at the meeting said, “Around 20-25% of our staff come from these states and they are facing difficulties in travelling. Domestic breeding checkers are carrying out sanitisation and fogging exercises too and they should not face problems while commuting.”

Dr Vardhan also asked the Delhi government and municipal authorities to declare malaria a ‘notifiable disease’ at the earliest.

The Union Minister said the meeting was necessary as everyone was busy battling COVID-19: “Last year, around 5,000 dengue cases were reported in India. We need to be better prepared to deal with such diseases.”

A notifiable disease is required by law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows authorities to monitor the disease and provide early warning of possible outbreaks.

Last July, Vardhan had asked the Delhi government to make malaria and dengue notifiable diseases. Following his directives, the South Corporation, responsible for collating data on vector-borne diseases, initiated work on the same.

“In the last five years, there has not been a single death reported due to malaria. We plan to eliminate the disease, hence focus should be on it,” he said during a video conference with officials including Health Minister Satyendar Jain and L-G Anil Baijal. Jain said the government is working on it.

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