LAHORE: The dengue fever has spread to at least 25 districts of Punjab as 373 more people have tested positive for the virus during the last 24 hours in the province, taking the total number of such cases reported this year to 5,413.
Most of the cases surfaced in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala, according to the official statistics.
Medical and public health officials have warned that the dengue posed a serious threat in the wake of recent floods and rains, particularly in south Punjab.
They say the district and health authorities are merely generating reports claiming destruction of dengue larva, rather than practically launching anti-dengue activities like those in 2010-11 when the virus had first hit Punjab.
Experts deplore lackluster drive to check larva
At that time, the officials say, the then Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif had strictly imposed anti-dengue regulations and held 40 high-level consecutive meetings to eradicate the disease from the province. The chief secretary, IG police, special branch head, health minister and the secretaries of nearly 30 government departments concerned used to attend those meetings, they remember.
They regretted that such spirit was missing under the sitting provincial government as most of the huddles to address the issue of dengue outbreak were called by the health department.
A retired public health official, who has been part of the past anti-dengue activities, remembers thousands of health teams would visit the rooftops of the houses, commercial buildings, official residences, markets, godowns, parks, education institutions and even the government offices to destroy dengue larva. The law enforcement agencies helping the anti-dengue activities would report directly to the chief minister, he says, recalling that hundreds of thousands of the cases were lodged across Punjab under anti-dengue regulations then.
He deplores that such practices have largely been abandoned now, and warns that people are more vulnerable to dengue in the wake of the massive floods and rains in the country. If ignored, the dengue outbreak may go beyond the control of the government, he warns.
According to the official data, 192 new cases were reported in Lahore, 101 in Rawalpindi and 22 in Gujranwala. Other districts where dengue cases have surfaced include Multan, Gujrat, Attock, Sialkot, Vehari, Hafizabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Sheikhpura, Okara, Nankana Sahib, Sargodha, Bahawalpur, Lodhran, Muzaffargarh, Bahawalnagar, Dera Ghazi Khan, Toba Tek Singh, Bhakar, Mianwali, Jhang, Pakpatan and Layyah.
The data shows Lahore has reported 2,278 cases of the virus since January this year.
Similarly, Punjab has reported a total of eight deaths caused by dengue fever during the same period, the official figures say.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022