How to deal with dengue during Covid-19? States come up with new protocols
The state governments across the country are preparing protocols and finding ways to strengthen an already stretched healthcare infrastructure due to Covid-19, in the wake of the onset of dengue season.
Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that spreads dengue, is most prevalent in cities, and experts have warned in the past that increased urbanisation and warming temperatures due to climate change means that its range will keep increasing.
From Punjab to West Bengal, instructions have been issued to the authorities to ensure dengue does not wreak havoc in the country already grappling with the spread of the coronavirus disease.
The Punjab government launched a sanitation drive last week. These drives were undertaken by both urban local bodies and panchayati Raj institutions on campaign basis for the prevention of dengue/vector-borne disease.
In West Bengal, the health officials have formulated new protocols to help medical professionals distinguish between Covid-19 and dengue, as both have similar symptoms. The protocols will also assist doctors to treat patients diagnosed with both the diseases, according to the health department.
“Since early June, we have been witnessing cases of both Covid-19 and dengue from districts like North 24 Parganas, Hooghly and Howrah. In these districts, doctors often find it difficult to differentiate between the two diseases. So, we have decided to form a set of protocols to help them,” news agency PTI quoted a health official as saying.
District health workers have been given training for this via video-conference, the health official further said.
The ways to prevent spread of dengue include destroying mosquito-breeding sites, like removing trash or old tyres and other objects containing standing water. But coronavirus-era lockdowns and other restrictions have meant that these efforts have been reduced or stopped altogether at many places.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 2019 was the worst year on record for dengue cases, with every region affected, and some countries were hit for the first time. According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), 1,36,422 dengue cases were diagnosed in India in 2019 and an estimated 132 people died.
Experts say that while reduced travel means fewer opportunities for mosquitoes to bite people with dengue to become carriers themselves, the coronavirus pandemic has introduced other variables.
Staying home – one way to slow outbreaks of Covid-19, especially in cities – poses greater risks for spreading dengue, said Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA). That’s because the Aedes mosquito bites during the day, and with more people staying home, where mosquito populations are high, the more likely they are to be bitten.
Both Covid-19 and dengue have symptoms such as high fever, headache and body pain.