Dengue emergency declared in Lahore as cases surge

LAHORE: The Punjab government declared a medical emergency at public health facilities in Lahore on Saturday due to the rising number of dengue cases amid rainy weather.

The decision was made at a meeting chaired by Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid on Friday which looked into the challenge of preventing the rapid breeding of mosquitoes in the province and expressed concern over a possible deterioration of the dengue situation in the coming weeks.

The provincial health department also instructed all doctors on leave to return to their respective medical facilities to deal with the growing number of dengue cases reported in Punjab.

“Recent rain spells coupled with humidity and a lot of construction work in some of the top neighbourhoods of Lahore have provided a breeding ground for dengue that has engulfed much of the city and its adjoining areas,” Punjab Health Secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch said.

He maintained the climatic conditions that create a conducive environment for the spread of the disease are likely to continue until the end of the year. Rejecting the claim that official surveillance teams are not doing their job, Baloch said the Covid-19 pandemic has already placed immense pressure on the province’s health system. The same medical staff is also dealing with the dengue situation, he added.

According to the latest figures, 299 dengue cases have been reported in the province in the last 24 hours. About 220 of these cases were only recorded in Lahore while the remaining ones were diagnosed in other parts of the province.

Statistics reveal that dengue cases in Punjab have reached 3,475 since January 2021, with Lahore accounting for 2,708 of them.

Officials say field surveillance revealed the breeding of larvae at 2,580 places across the province, adding that 1,530 of them were spotted in Lahore.

Dengue is a threat to nearly half of the world’s population. Of the estimated 220 million people infected each year, two million, mostly children in Latin America and Asia, develop its severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever. There is no specific treatment for the disease, though its early detection can help its treatment.

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