The National Dengue Control Unit and the Dengue Eradication Unit of the Ministry of Health have sounded the alarm over a possible major outbreak of the deadly disease following the intermittent rains now prevalent in the country.
All schools in the Kinniya educational zone and education circuit and division in the Trincomalee district making up a total of 66 were closed from March 15 for three days owing to the spread of dengue fever which has thus far claimed the lives of 13 people in the region.
Kinniya has reported the most number of cases of dengue patients with 37 while Uppuveli and Muttur have been demarcated as high risk areas.
The majority of the patients have been transferred from the Kinniya Base Hospital to the General Hospital in Trincomalee owing to the lack of facilities for treating dengue patients. But the General Hospital in Trincomalee cannot accommodate more patients and the shortcoming is being looked into by Provincial Minister of Health A.L.M. Nazeer, Governor of the Province, Austin Fernando, Secretary – Ministry of Health, Anura Jayawickrama, Director General of Health Services, Dr. J.M.W. Jayasundara Bandara and Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, who have taken action to enhance the medical facilities.
Plans are also underway to enlist more doctors and nurses.
Public Medical Officer of Health of the district, Arun Mohan said that an anti-dengue programme covering the entire district of Trincomalee had commenced.
Elsewhere, Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, Z.A. Nazeer Ahamed, Provincial Minister of Education, Singaravelu Thandauthapani and A.L.M. Nazeer have held discussions with a view of devising an action plan with regard to combating dengue in the future by way of a special programme which has since been put in operation.
It was reported that on March 15, 700 army personnel along with health sector employees and villagers had conducted a massive clean-up operation to destroy mosquito breeding grounds in Kinniya.
A total of 20,147 dengue cases have been reported this year during the first 10 weeks and the highest number of patients was reported from the Western Province.
Previously, there were cases in the Southern Province (Hambantota and Matara) and the East (Kalmunai), where there have been outbreaks in local pockets which have since abated to a larger extent.
Director of the Unit, Dr. A.H.M. Thawfeek said that the public should be extremely cautious when disposing of garbage. Households and construction sites have carelessly discarded items such as plastic and glass while garbage scattered on the streets have also contributed to helping the dengue mosquito proliferate, according to Dr. Thawfeek.
He said gutters and pits left open and places where water stagnates for a week become an environment conducive for breeding mosquitoes.
Currently, the country is facing the first inter-monsoonal season (March and April).
“Due to the prevalent rain factor with heavy rain on certain days which cannot be forecasted with complete accuracy, there is the possibility of more outbreaks as it might cause certain changes including a higher number of cases,” he explained.
A three-member committee has been appointed by the Ministry of Health to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of a pregnant woman Dilki Dilshani Nandasena, who was admitted to the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila on February 28, where she had died while being treated for dengue.
But relatives of Dilki alleged that negligence on the part of the hospital and subsequently staged a protest and demonstration outside the hospital premises on March 12.