Bangladesh in all-out war against dengue

A young Bangladeshi patient suffering from dengue fever rests in a bed at the Mugda Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2019

Bangladesh in all-out war against dengue

  • Of the 60 confirmed deaths from the virus, 22 of them were children

DHAKA: Authorities in Bangladesh fighting to control the spread of a deadly mosquito-borne virus, which has so far killed at least 60 people, have been warned the crisis could get worse.

Despite desperate attempts to stem the outbreak of dengue fever, the Bangladeshi Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed on Tuesday that 753 new cases had been admitted to hospitals across the country in the past 24 hours.

In a statement, the Health Emergency Operation Center and Control Room (HEOCCR) at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said that the number of patients currently undergoing treatment for the disease in government and private hospitals stood at 3,072, out of which 1,434 were in the capital Dhaka.

Of the 60 confirmed deaths from the virus, 22 of them were children.

Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told Arab News that preventive measures urgently needed to be put in place, “otherwise the situation may take a turn for the worse in days to come.”

According to official data, 78,617 people have been struck down by the virus in Bangladesh this year alone. Around 95 percent of them were released from hospital after seeking medical help.

“Apart from the capital, Jashore, Barisal, Kushtia and Manikgonj have already been identified as the most dengue-prone areas,” Dr. Ayesha Akther, spokesperson for the HEOCCR told Arab News.

“We have been informed of 197 deaths due to dengue at different hospitals, but to determine whether they were because of dengue or another disease, we would have to thoroughly examine the case histories of the patients.”

Dhaka Children’s Hospital (DCH), the only specialized hospital of its kind in the country, was currently treating 66 dengue patients, said its director, Prof. Syed Shafi Ahmed.

“Children aged between four and eight years are most vulnerable to dengue,” he told Arab News. “Although we are now receiving less patients compared to last month, the number is still high and it’s a matter of concern for us.

“Any type of fever in this situation can’t be ignored and people should test themselves within three days.”

Experts have identified global warming and climate change as one of the main reasons for the outbreak, with other tropical and sub-tropical countries also hit by the virus this year.

“The pattern of rainfall has changed in recent years which has created a favorable environment for the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes,” said Flora.

The IEDCR director added that the Bangladeshi government had given “maximum effort” to dealing with this year’s dengue outbreak. “We have provided dengue test kits in all the government hospitals ... in all private hospitals, the government has fixed the rate of dengue screening at an affordable price too.”

She said a massive awareness campaign was also underway, “the results for which are already visible with the number of new patients being much lower than those registered in August.”

However, Flora warned that Bangladesh was a dengue-prevalent country and preventive measures must be in place to curb the menace. “Otherwise the situation may take a turn for the worse in days to come.”


UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

Updated 15 September 2019

UK’s Boris Johnson likens himself to The Incredible Hulk

  • Johnson said he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what
  • “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the Mail

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has compared himself to The Incredible Hulk in a newspaper interview emphasizing his determination to take Britain out of the European Union next month.
Johnson faces considerable legal and political hurdles but told the Mail on Sunday he will meet the Oct. 31 deadline no matter what.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he told the widely read tabloid, invoking the comic book and film character known for formidable but destructive strength.
Johnson remains defiant even though Parliament has passed a law requiring him to seek an extension to the deadline if no deal is reached by mid-October. He has also lost his working majority in Parliament and been told by Scotland’s highest court that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal.
Johnson portrays himself as more convinced than ever that Britain will break with the EU at the end of October.
He will have a lunchtime meeting in Luxembourg on Monday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to try to modify the Irish backstop that has been a main sticking point, but EU leaders did not seem impressed by Johnson’s invocation of the Hulk.
The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the comments showed a lack of maturity.
“Even to Trumpian standards the Hulk comparison is infantile,” he tweeted. “Is the EU supposed to be scared by this? The British public impressed?“
Juncker, who has downplayed hopes of a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting, also expressed alarm that many people in Britain seem to feel a British departure without a deal with the EU would be a positive thing.
“It would be terrible chaos,” he said in an interview with Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio. “And we would need years to put things back in order. Anyone who loves his country, and I assume that there are still patriots in Britain, would not want to wish his country such a fate.”
The Oct. 31 deadline looms large because Johnson has not said he will seek another extension if no deal is reached, despite legislation passed by Parliament shortly before it was suspended.
Britain’s Supreme Court this week will rule on whether Johnson overstepped the law when he shut the legislature for a crucial five-week period.
The Liberal Democrats, who have been enjoying a revival, voted overwhelmingly at their party conference Sunday to end the Brexit process entirely if they come to power.
Party leader Jo Swinson said Article 50, which triggered Brexit, would be revoked if she becomes prime minister.
The party gained an important member Saturday with the defection of Sam Gyimah, a former Conservative minister. He is the sixth legislator to switch allegiance and join the Liberal Democrats this year.
Johnson also continues to take flak from former Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the 2016 referendum on Brexit.
Cameron said in an interview published Sunday that Johnson didn’t really believe in Brexit when he broke ranks and led the campaign to take Britain out of the EU. Cameron had been expecting Johnson’s help during the hard-fought campaign.
Cameron says of Johnson: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
Cameron is giving interviews to gain publicity for his upcoming memoirs.