Govt. wary of revealing dengue death toll

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Epidemiology Unit (EU) of the Health Ministry yesterday said that over 23,565 dengue cases had been reported from the beginning of the year to date. The Unit’s website revealed that 586 cases had been reported from the beginning of the month to date. It however hid the death toll.

The highest number of cases reported was from Colombo (7,175), Gampaha (2,704), Kurunegala (2,396), Matale (1,420), Kalutara (1,349), Ratnapura (1,491), Puttalam (760), Galle (676) and Kegalle (905).

The EU said that the dengue peak had been witnessed during the months of May and June this year.

The number of cases reported within the same period last year was over 33,000.

However, the EU’s website has taken steps to cross out the dengue death toll claiming that the media gave more prominence to the number of deaths and not the vital information about the disease.

The Health Ministry spokesman, issuing a communiqué, said that 47.67 percent of the number of dengue cases had been recorded from the Western Province.

The spokesman said that the Health Ministry was scheduled to conduct its second mosquito control programme for the year from Oct. 7 to 13.

Meanwhile, the Chief of the Colombo Municipal Council Public Health Department (PHD) Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said that they were considering temporarily suspending the use of locally manufactured Bacillus thuringiensis israelensi (Bti) and going in for more environment management methods. The onset of the rains deterred the expected outcome as the Bti, which attacked the dengue mosquito larvae, got washed away, he said.

Dr. Kariyawasam said that they had spent approximately Rs. 4 mn this year to purchase the locally manufactured Bti. However, even that was inadequate for city and the PHD had been compelled to use it only in high risk areas such as Borella and Colombo North where there were several construction sites and tenements.

The PHD Chief said that the number of dengue cases reported in the city this year, from the beginning of January to the third week of this month, was 2,515. The dengue death toll within the same period was 11 in the city. Last year the number of cases reported within the first nine months was 2,142, he added. 

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