44,000 hit in Pakistan as dengue cases soar
A record-breaking 44,000 people have been infected with mosquito-borne dengue in Pakistan this year, a senior health official said on Wendesday, as increased outbreaks linked to rising temperatures and erratic rainfall ravage other parts of Asia.
Dr Rana Safdar, a senior official at the National Institute of Health said the figure is a huge leap from the previous record of 27,000 infections in 2011.
Safdar said 66 people had been killed by the disease so far in 2019, compared with 370 in 2011.
He blamed climate change for the surge but would not elaborate. The government was “employing all available resources at its disposal to contain the problem,” he said.
Physician Mahseema Siddique, who treats dengue patients, blamed the government for the rise in cases, saying local authorities in Punjab and capital Islamabad, in particular, had failed to take precautions such as covering up water reservoirs or spraying anti-dengue chemicals.
“They woke up only after hundreds of people got infected and that was too late. There are a large number of areas where spray teams could not make it,” he said.
The highest number of patients was recorded in the Islamabad and neighboring garrison city of Rawalpindi, where 12,433 people were found infected with the virus.
Dengue is transmitted mainly by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which thrives in densely populated tropical climes and breeds in stagnant pools of water.