With maximum temperatures set to rise, staying at home has never looked better. While a heatwave is expected to persist in several north Indian states and parts of Maharashtra and Telangana for the next five days, state health authorities said, so far, there was no documented case of heat stroke this year.
So much so that at the state-run Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Dial 108 ambulances, officials said in the last three months, they had not served any heat-related emergency. “Our ambulances have been serving a minimum of 2,500 to 3,000 patients daily – for Covid as well as non-Covid emergencies. However, in the last three months, we have not served any heat-related emergency,” said EMS officials.
In Nagpur, which is already at 47 degrees Celsius mark, state health officials said, so far, there was no documented case of heat stroke. Last year, there were 568 recorded cases of heat stroke and nine deaths in the state. Of these, 213 cases were from the Nagpur division. However, there were no deaths.
Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, Deputy Director of Health Services, Nagpur division, said their heat action plan was in place and, so far, there was no case of heat stroke.
Heat stroke is a form of hyperthermia or heat-related illness with abnormally elevated temperatures accompanied by physical symptoms, including changes in the functioning of the nervous system. Unlike heat cramps and heat exhaustion, heat stroke is a medical emergency that can prove fatal if not treated on time.
While the state disaster management unit works in close coordination with India Meteorological Department, state health department and Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority, Maharashtra’s mitigation and response measures also lay extra emphasis in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.
Nagpur and Chandrapur in the Vidarbha region face extreme heat during the summer months with temperatures ranging between 45 and 48 degrees Celsius. “Our heat action plan is in tune with guidelines of National Disaster Management Authority and, due to the lockdown, movement of people has been severely restricted,” Dr Jaiswal said.
However, measures such as shelters and cool jackets for police personnel and mist sprinkling on railway platforms have been implemented, he added.
According to state Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awate, an awareness campaign had been undertaken and local authorities had been asked to implement a similar campaign.
He added that district administrations had also been advised to appoint nodal officers to implement the heat action plan.
Dr Dileep Mavalankar, Director, Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, said mitigation strategies such as cool roofs were essential. He also stressed on reforms required in heat action planning and implementation.
People in central congested areas and containment areas might suffer more due to the lockdown and heat wave, Dr Mavalankar told The Indian Express, adding that the positive side was that they did not have to undertake heavy labour work in hot weather.
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