LAHORE: Authorities in the Pakistani province of Punjab, already under pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic, are struggling to contain dengue fever with over 170 cases reported during the last 24 hours, provincial officials said on Tuesday, with cases recorded in all provinces of the country other than Balochistan.
Health experts say the illness is spreading across the province due to poor hygiene conditions, with heavy monsoon rain providing ideal environment for dengue-carrying mosquitoes to thrive in stagnant waters.
The first case of dengue was reported in Pakistan in 1994.
“We have recorded 174 dengue cases in Punjab in the last 24 hours,” provincial health secretary Imran Sikandar Baloch told Arab News. “Among them, 160 cases were diagnosed in Lahore.”
He said the province had reported a total 1,300 dengue cases since the outbreak of the disease in this monsoon season, adding that Lahore accounted for 1,077 of the total tally.
A senior official of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), however, said the government was downplaying the problem by sharing conservative figures.
“About 927 confirmed dengue cases have been reported in Punjab in the last 24 hours and more than 200 of them are from Lahore,” Dr. Qaisar Sajjad, PMA secretary general, said, describing dengue fever as a “recurring nightmare” for the province.
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 a severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for dengue fever.
Health authorities in Islamabad are also on high alert due to the spread of dengue after a downward trend in coronavirus infections. Data collected by the district health officer show 217 dengue cases along with three deaths in the federal capital.
The situation is also causing concern among health officials in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which has reported 1,162 cases since the outbreak of the disease, with 312 new cases diagnosed during the last 24 hours.
A dengue outbreak has also been witnessed in the country’s southeastern Sindh province where 508 cases have only been reported in the port city of Karachi since the beginning of the month. Balochistan is the only federating unit that has not reported a dengue case this year.
“There is no official confirmation of any dengue cases in the province,” Liaqat Shahwani, the Balochistan spokesperson, told Arab News. “However, we cannot rule out the possibility of one or two such cases.”