Over 50 dengue cases were reported in July across the country
Sarpang reported 14 malaria and dengue fever cases within 10 days, worrying officials that the viral disease could hamper the dzongkhag’s effort to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least one case of dengue was reported every two days in the past one week and one case of malaria every day for the past 10 days, according to records with Gelephu Central Regional Referral Hospital (CRRH) and Vector-borne Disease Control Program (VDCP).
All four dengue patients are admitted at the CRRH although they didn’t show severe symptoms to prevent further spread in the community. The reporting of cases is done at the earliest possible.
The dzongkhag experienced heavy rainfall for the past one month. The monsoon started early this year that increased the risk of dengue and malaria outbreak in the region.
Medical Superintendent Dorji Tshering the task force is keeping a close watch, reminding and advocating people on personnel protection. “Every household should take responsibility to keep their surroundings clean,” he said.
The dzongkhag reported the first malaria case in April and the first dengue case on July 2, which is about five months late compared to last year.
Sarpang reported one of the highest cases of dengue and malaria in the past years, according to health officials. The dzongkhag has also started to report malaria cases from places that did not have any malaria cases for more than two years.
The cases were reported from three gewogs of Chuzergang, Serzhong, and Umling and the investigation is undergoing.
Medical entomologist with VDCP, Tenzin Wangdi said there would be less chance of cases being imported with the border sealed since March.
“The place that did not confirm any case of malaria has started to confirm, making it difficult to say whether it was locally acquired or not. Nothing is conclusive now. The nature of the outbreak is sporadic,” he said.
The country is in the phase of malaria elimination and he added that reporting a single case is also considered as an outbreak. “More than half the patients had gone out of home for voluntary duties and were outside late at night. Few did not sleep under the net,” he said.
The youngest malaria patient is a six-year old and the eldest, an 80 years old.
Medical specialist from CRRH said if everyone followed lockdown measures strictly, it would be worrying to learn that the cases are local.
“But, we will have to establish the cases were not because of other viruses. Sometimes there can be cross-reaction. We are in tropical areas and we have other diseases as well,” she said.
For a country to achieve a malaria-free status, it has to maintain zero indigenous malaria cases or local cases for three consecutive years, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The medical specialist added should there be an outbreak of dengue and malaria it would dilute the concentration of managing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “Our fear is that we have less manpower,” she said.
Pressure on resources, medical equipment, and medicine and health workers is expected to rise.