• Tuesday, November 30, 2021
India corona update 
Total Fatalities 425,195
Total Cases 31,726,507
Today's Fatalities 422
Today's Cases 30,549
India corona update 
Total Fatalities 425,195
Total Cases 31,726,507
Today's Fatalities 422
Today's Cases 30,549

Coronavirus

Dengue outbreak makes India hospitals repurpose Covid beds

Patients rest under the mosquito nets at the dengue ward of a government hospital in Allahabad in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (Photo by SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

HOSPITAL authorities in India had a tough time when a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic engulfed the country, leaving several thousands dead. In the wake of the tragedy, beds were hastily converted for Covid-19 patients so that a potential third wave didn’t wreak another havoc.

But those beds have now been repurposed, not for a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic but for another outbreak – of dengue, also known as “breakbone fever” which has affected thousands of people in New Delhi, India’s capital, and hundreds of thousands across the nation, The Telegraph, UK, reported.

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One such patient is Mr Mishra who has been recovering from dengue at New Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital.

“I dragged myself to the balcony to get some warm sunlight but as I sat shivering on a charpai (cot), trying to retreat into my blanket, I felt like I might pass out,” he told The Telegraph.

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He was taken to a municipal hospital in eastern Delhi by his son-in-law where doctors suspected he was down with dengue.

“I developed severe joint pain, fever, and the worst headache I ever had. Also, I got scared, with red blotches all over,” he said. On the doctor’s advice, Mishra was shifted to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital soon after.

Blood tests confirmed that Mr Mishra’s platelet count had dropped to 70,000 — a major complication in dengue fever which sees increasing destruction of platelets and reduction in the formation of new ones.

Dengue is generally a flu-like illness but severe dengue can cause bleeding and even death.

The ongoing outbreak first happened in the city of Firozabad in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in August in which 88 children died. The outbreak has spread ever since across the country with the national numbers nearing 117,000, The Telegraph report added.

Dengue, which is spread by mosquitoes, has four strains with differing degrees of mortality. Dr Vikas Singhal, joint director of Uttar Pradesh’s vector-borne disease unit, told The Telegraph that the most virulent DENV-2 strain was behind 85 per cent of the cases that were reported in Firozabad.

He said the death toll has remained low (eight) while an audit is currently underway into other deaths.

Cases of dengue have continued to rise across India as the monsoon has continued for long, allowing mosquitoes to breed in stagnant water.

Patients from various northern states have reached Delhi for treatment, causing a major spike in the number of patients in recent weeks. The national capital has now logged more than 5,200 cases, the highest since 2015, with the hospitals getting overcrowded. The situation has forced many hospitals now to use their Covid beds to treat dengue patients.

Dr Ritu Saxena, chief casualty medical officer (CCMO) at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, told The Telegraph, “At any given point of time, we have around 100 dengue patients admitted with us. To deal with it, we are utilizing the Covid beds for dengue patients.”

She said conditions of about 20 per cent of the admitted patients were serious while 10 per cent needed intensive care unit support.

“We mostly receive regular dengue patients, but some of them have hemorrhagic fever, low platelet count, or [are] in shock, which requires ICU beds,” she said.

The scenario is no different in several other hospitals in Delhi. At one municipal hospital in eastern Delhi, the authorities had to cancel elective and emergency surgeries after failing to tackle the rising number of dengue patients.

“We are getting nearly 250-300 fever cases each day. Out of them, 70 to 80 per cent are dengue patients and all our wards are full,” the hospital’s medical superintendent told the news outlet.

In the neighbouring state of Punjab, too, shortage of medicines and paracetamol and discovery of dengue mosquitoes in 1.5 million homes inspected left the authorities deeply worried.

Experts said the outbreaks exposed India’s health-emergency preparedness which remains inadequate, even post Covid.

Dr Sumit Ray, medical superintendent of the Holy Family hospital in New Delhi, told The Telegraph, “Unfortunately, dengue has sent a repeated alarm bell which the Indian health system has never looked into. There has been a lack of investment, thought and accountability in the public health system in India.”

“If we have a surge like the second Covid wave, most of the Indian States including New Delhi will be overwhelmed because we are not prepared for it. There are areas in the country which are organized better and we should look at examples within the country and abroad to see how we can do better,” he added.

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