DENGUE cases continue to rise at an alarming rate in several cities of KP and Punjab. According to data provided by the KP government, a grand total of 3,300 cases have been reported in the province. News reports indicate that the authorities are having a hard time persuading the public to adopt precautionary measures. On the other hand, it isn’t clear what steps the authorities have taken to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes in high-risk areas. According to a news report, a large number of citizens have complained that no fumigation has been carried out in their areas.

Meanwhile, the situation is even grimmer in Punjab, where the total number of cases so far this year is reported to be around 4,900; a dozen people have died from dengue complications. The city most affected is Lahore, where at the time of writing 3,666 cases had been confirmed. At present, around 1,300 patients are being treated in hospitals across the province, with more than 600 in Lahore alone. The cases are expected to rise further, prompting the authorities to set up a 280-bed field hospital in Lahore’s Expo Centre. In Islamabad and Rawalpindi, cases continue to rise despite the naive optimism of health authorities that cooler weather due to the recent rains would automatically result in a drop in dengue cases. Over 200 cases were reported from the twin cities on Tuesday. While the situation has not yet assumed the proportions seen in 2019, when around 17,000 cases were reported from the Islamabad area alone, the numbers are rising rapidly, and, if not checked might further strain the already stressed healthcare system. Besides monitoring the situation closely and carrying out fumigation, the authorities should also seek expert help to tackle the dengue outbreak which has become a regular feature. Moreover, the KP and Punjab governments should launch an aggressive information campaign to address the misinformation about the cause and nature of dengue, while encouraging people to take precautions.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2021

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