Bangladesh in all-out war against dengue

A young Bangladeshi patient suffering from dengue fever rests in a bed at the Mugda Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Bangladesh in all-out war against dengue

  • Of the 60 confirmed deaths from the virus, 22 of them were children

DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh fighting to control the spread of a deadly mosquito-borne virus, which has so far killed at least 60 people, have been warned the crisis could get worse.

Despite desperate attempts to stem the outbreak of dengue fever, the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed on Tuesday that 753 new cases had been admitted to hospitals across the country in the past 24 hours.

In a statement, the Health Emergency Operation Center and Control Room (HEOCCR) at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said that the number of patients currently undergoing treatment for the disease in government and private hospitals stood at 3,072, out of which 1,434 were in the capital Dhaka.

Of the 60 confirmed deaths from the virus, 22 of them were children.

Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told Arab News that preventive measures urgently needed to be put in place, “otherwise the situation may take a turn for the worse in days to come.”

According to official data, 78,617 people have been struck down by the virus in Bangladesh this year alone. Around 95 percent of them were released from hospital after seeking medical help.

“Apart from the capital, Jashore, Barisal, Kushtia and Manikgonj have already been identified as the most dengue-prone areas,” Dr. Ayesha Akther, spokesperson for the HEOCCR told Arab News.

“We have been informed of 197 deaths due to dengue at different hospitals, but to determine whether they were because of dengue or another disease, we would have to thoroughly examine the case histories of the patients.”

Dhaka Children’s Hospital (DCH), the only specialized hospital of its kind in the country, was currently treating 66 dengue patients, said its director, Prof. Syed Shafi Ahmed.

“Children aged between four and eight years are most vulnerable to dengue,” he told Arab News. “Although we are now receiving less patients compared to last month, the number is still high and it’s a matter of concern for us.

“Any type of fever in this situation can’t be ignored and people should test themselves within three days.”

Experts have identified global warming and climate change as one of the main reasons for the outbreak, with other tropical and sub-tropical countries also hit by the virus this year.

“The pattern of rainfall has changed in recent years which has created a favorable environment for the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” said Flora.

The IEDCR director added that the Bangladeshi government had given “maximum effort” to dealing with this year’s dengue outbreak. “We have provided dengue test kits in all the government hospitals ... in all private hospitals, the government has fixed the rate of dengue screening at an affordable price too.”

She said a massive awareness campaign was also underway, “the results for which are already visible with the number of new patients being much lower than those registered in August.”

However, Flora warned that Bangladesh was a dengue-prevalent country and preventive measures must be in place to curb the menace. “Otherwise the situation may take a turn for the worse in days to come.”

Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

Updated 26 February 2020

Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

  • Clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law
  • Unrest is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades

NEW DELHI: Riot police patrolled the streets of India’s capital on Wednesday and the city’s leader called for a curfew following battles between Hindus and Muslims that claimed at least 20 lives.
The two days of unrest — which has seen clashes between mobs armed with swords and guns — is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades.
The clashes come amid worsening religious tensions following a citizenship law that critics say is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, called Wednesday for the army to be deployed and for a curfew to be imposed over flashpoint northeastern districts.
“Police, despite all its efforts, (are) unable to control the situation and instill confidence,” Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday morning.
“Army (should) be called in and curfew imposed.”
The clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law, then descended into pitched battles between the mobs.
Twenty people died and nearly 200 others were wounded in the first two days of violence, the director of the hospital where people were taken, told AFP on Wednesday.
Sixty people had suffered gunshot wounds, according to the director, Sunil Kumar.
The area is home to mostly poorer economic migrants living in many shanty neighborhoods, and some fled on Wednesday ahead of more expected clashes.
“People are killing (each other). Bullets are being fired here,” a tailor in the Jaffrabad area told AFP, adding that he was returning home to his village in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“There is no work... It is better to leave than to stick around here. Why would we want to die here?“
On Wednesday morning AFP saw people cleaning out the blackened and trashed interior of a mosque in the Ashok Nagar area burned out during the violence.
A video circulated on social media and verified by AFP showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and placing a Hindu religious flag and an Indian flag.
The new citizenship law has raised worries abroad that Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The law expedites the citizenship applications for persecuted minorities from India’s three Muslim-majority neighboring countries, but not if they are Muslim.
The flare-up in violence occurred as US President Donald Trump visited India and held talks with Modi in Delhi on Tuesday.
But Trump left as scheduled on Tuesday and his visit was not visibly interrupted by the violence.