Those who let mosquito breed will see their water source disconnected. 

In their effort to control dengue, residents of Phuentsholing failing to keep their surroundings clean and let mosquitoes breed would be penalised.

The thromde would severe the water connection if people do not maintain their area. 

This is a new strategy the response team, a collaboration of dessups, thromde, and dungkhag has initiated. The Phuentsholing general hospital has reported of 1,808 positive cases until September 1, which is an increase from 1,468 positive cases until August 26.

The hospital saw a total of 1,337 positive cases in August.

As a new measure, a team of dessups on August 31 visited each household and inspected if there were mosquito-breeding sites in and around the surroundings. Many breeding sources were also destroyed.

The dungkhag health officer (DHO), Passang Tshering said that the dessups would issue a memo to the people if their surroundings were breeding mosquitoes.

“If the breeding sources are found in the next visit, actions would be taken as per the rules,” he said, adding the team is also educating the people.

Passing Tshering said that the reduction and destruction of the breeding sources is the only option. The sources are also most prevalent in lower market, colony settlements, Kabreytar and at the construction sites.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai, a dessup himself, said they are inspecting these prone areas.

“Treatment is not the solution,” thrompon said, explaining destroying the breeding sources is the primary focus. “That is why I initiated this with the dungkhag.”

The thrompon also said that somebody cleaning for others wouldn’t work now and pointed out that people have to also take care of their own surroundings. Dessups are more effective and people would listen to them in this time of urgency, he added.

Meanwhile, thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said awareness and cleaning campaigns had to be done prior to outbreak, before the monsoon.

“However, we could not do it because there is a lot of confusion in the policies,” he said, adding that the hospital, thromde and dungkhag all have different policies.

“We didn’t have any plans.”

Pre-planning and relevant works would be done from next year.

The situation has not improved, Phuentsholing hospital management said.

Dr Thinley Pelzang said numbers have decreased comparatively. “But it would take a month to completely bring the outbreak under control,” he said.

Dr Thinley Pelzang also attributed the outbreak to the porous border in Phuentsholing.

“Thousands of people keep moving in and out,” he said. “Despite awareness programmes, people are also still keeping their surroundings dirty.”

A Phuentsholing resident Biswadeep Chhetri said that it was startling to see people affected by dengue.

“I think it has to do with the surroundings,” he said, explaining rain and hot weather has given dengue mosquitoes to breed more this time.

The businessman also said that the government authorities should take this outbreak as a case to study and prepare for the future. It will always get late to react after an outbreak, he added.

Meanwhile, there are now four thermal fogging machines in Phuentsholing. Two machines that were brought from Samtse have been returned. DHO Passang Tshering said too much of thermal fogging was also not good.

The first dengue case in Phuentsholing was reported on July 5.

Health officials recently have said that the outbreak has reached about 18 dzongkhags with 7,664 suspected cases. From more than 1,900 positive cases, Phuentsholing has seen 77 percent alone.

Four people have also succumbed to the fever this year. The last time dengue killed a person in Phuentsholing was in 2003. In 2016, about 857 dengue cases were reported in Phuentsholing. However, there were no casualties.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing