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ISLAMABAD: Following the ongoing heavy monsoon rains which inundated cities, towns and villages across the country the dengue virus is rapidly engulfing the country including the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Referring to stagnant water accumulating in ponds and low-lying areas after the rain, the District Health Officer of Islamabad, Dr Zaeem Zia, stated that the stagnant rainwater was an excellent breeding environment for the development of dengue larvae and recommended swift action to minimise the threat.

Dr Zia warned that the number of dengue cases in the capital could increase if adequate measures are delayed. Although Islamabad’s urban areas have reported only one case in the past 24 hours and a total of 124 infections this year, Dr Zia warned that the number of dengue cases could rise if adequate measures are delayed. He said that DHO dengue surveillance teams are in constant efforts in making Islamabad safe and we are rigorously making efforts so that our people remain.

At least 97 people in Sindh and 85 in Punjab are confirmed to be affected by the dengue virus in the last 24 hours. Cases of dengue have increased in the two provinces with Sindh being more impacted where 92 patients were reported to have been sick with the virus in various districts across Karachi.

People in Sindh are to face most serious waterborne disease problems where according to the Sindh Health Ministry at least 1,200 health facilities are destroyed by the flood which still has not stopped.

The Sindh health department further shared that in the first five days of September, 347 people, including women and children were confirmed to have been infected by the virus, while the total number of patients reported this year has reached 2,922.

While sharing statistics regarding the number of dengue-related cases, Punjab’s secretary of health said that the number of dengue virus patients reported in the last 24 hours is 85, among which, 46 have been confirmed from Rawalpindi, 31 from Lahore, and two from Bahawalpur.

According to Punjab’s secretary health, one case each of dengue has been reported from Pakpattan, Rajanpur, Toba Tek Singh, Chakwal, Muzaffargarh, and Nankana Sahib in the last 24 hours. At least 1,622 patients have been reported to have been affected by the virus in Punjab this year, while 310 are currently receiving treatment in various hospitals across the province.

Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan (Sitara-e-Imtiaz), while talking to Business Recorder on the post-flood scenario and waterborne diseases said urged the government and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to send medical equipment and medicines to flood-hit areas immediately.Apart from these diseases, there is a high risk of hepatitis, cholera, and other deadly infections spreading if immediate action is not taken.

Health experts have warned that waterborne diseases may kill more people than by rains and floods.

“The outbreaks have already begun as being reported from parts of Sindh, South Punjab, and Balochistan.”

Health physician Dr Salman Qureshi said that tens of thousands of people are already suffering from diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, malaria, dengue fever, and other skin and eye diseases.

Thousands of pregnant women in flood-battered areas are also taking a toll, putting the country’s already frail health care network under extra pressure as a result of infrastructural damage caused by rains and floods, he added.

He believes that the financial and physical losses would increase anxiety and depression among the affected population.

“This all requires timely treatment and ample amounts of medicines, which unfortunately are insufficient to commensurate with the gravity of the crisis,” he said.

“A tougher task is ahead. If these outbreaks are not controlled, they have the potential to kill far more people than floods,” he warned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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