Earlier this month, Pakistan announced that it would allow theatres to open up in the wake of the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases.
Pakistan, which was hit by the fourth wave of coronavirus seems to have flattened the curve, that too in a short span of time. However, the country struggles to keep up with the previous pandemic i.e. dengue.
Dengue cases continue to rise at an alarming rate in several cities across the country especially in Lahore. Pakistan, the country which has surprisingly managed to flatten its covid curve, how will it control rising dengue cases?
In Pakistan, dengue fever has been a major concerning factor. The fever is also known as break-bone fever, which appears with symptoms of headaches, high temperature, muscular or bone pains, and a decrease in platelets.
Dengue fever is caused by a virus that has four stereotypes (DENV-1 to DENV-4) and is transmitted through female mosquitos known as Aides Aegypti.
In Pakistan, dengue cases increase in the rainfall season, especially during the monsoon season.
Typically, people infected with the dengue virus are 80% asymptomatic or have only mild symptoms such as an uncomplicated fever. Others have more severe 5% of illness, and in a small proportion, it is life-threatening.
The incubation period (time between exposure and onset of symptoms) ranges from 3 to 14 days, but most often it is 4 to 7 days. Therefore, travelers returning from endemic areas are unlikely to have dengue fever if symptoms start more than 14 days after arriving home.
Children often experience symptoms similar to those of the common cold and gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) and have a greater risk of severe complications, though initial symptoms are generally mild but include high fever.
Rising dengue cases
On 24th October, an additional 832 dengue fever cases were reported in different areas of Pakistan. The dengue monster is once again rearing its head in different cities of the province.
According to data provided by the medical authorities, in this year, 16,330 dengue cases have been recorded across the country, of which 40 people have lost their lives. Of the total cases, recorded till October 15, the majority, 5,709 dengue cases were recorded in Punjab.
Major reason of drawback
According to a news report, a large number of citizens have complained that no fumigation has been carried out in their areas.
Lack of proper hospitals and clinics are another major factor and no proper facilities in remote hotspot regions that are often affected by dengue fever is also a major issue. Improved sanitation systems can facilitate reducing breeding grounds such cases are also found in a few places.
A large-scale public awareness campaign is needed to prevent misinformation about dengue and to encourage people to take precautions. For example, many people believe that the dengue mosquito is active only at dawn and dusk. However, research suggests that the Aedes mosquito is responsible for the spread of dengue bites during the day as well, especially two hours after sunrise and before sunset.
Indeed, such interprovincial initiatives are the need of the hour to contain the outbreak as soon as possible and do not reach the near-epidemic proportions of 2019, when cases in Punjab rose to more than 8,670 with over 50,000 reported from all of Pakistan.
The government is responding—the anti-dengue drive which is initiated from time to time by the district administration is already in full swing under which surveillance is being carried out across various parts of the country.
Yet, the response and the outcome are still too slow. The situation should not have been allowed to get this bad. The government needs to tap into the procedures and resources already in place.