dengue fever victim bangladesh
© Rashed Shuman
Six-year-old Sneha stares blankly, lying on a bed at Dhaka Shishu Hospital yesterday morning. She was not admitted as the hospital is already overwhelmed with dengue patients.
DGHS says; 3 die in Dhaka;1,096 more new cases reported; city schools step up measures to combat Aedes mosquito

Dengue has spread to 50 districts with a record 1,096 patients having been diagnosed with the viral disease yesterday alone.

Three days ago, dengue cases were being reported from only 17 districts and the day before yesterday reports came in from five new districts. The number of districts with dengue cases shot up to 50 yesterday, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

Dengue spreads, 3 die

At least three people, including a child, died in the capital and Savar yesterday after they had been diagnosed with dengue. So far, 35 people have died after being diagnosed with the disease.

The government claims that eight people have died of dengue so far.

Shanta Miah, 24, a resident of Fatullah of Narayanganj, died in the ICU of Dhaka Medical College Hospital Sunday night. He was admitted to the DMCH on July 25 with dengue fever and was moved to the ICU on Sunday.

Nine-year-old Jarifa died at Dhaka Shishu Hospital on Sunday, said Kankar Ghosh, an epidemiologist at the hospital.

Jewel Mahamud Nayon, 27, died in the ICU of Enam Medical College Hospital in Savar, according to Yousuf Ali, duty manager at the hospital.

Data from the the DGHS shows 13,637 people have been infected with the mosquito-borne disease until yesterday, the highest in a year in Bangladesh. Last year, the number was 10,148. Many said the number could be higher as many cases go unreported.

In the 24 hours since 8:00am on Sunday, 1,096 new dengue cases were reported, the highest in a single day, the DGHS said.

So far, dengue cases have been reported from Gazipur, Gopalganj, Madaripur, Manikganj, Narsingdi, Rajbari, Shariatpur, Tangail, Munshiganj, Kishoreganj and Narayanganj in Dhaka division; Chattogram, Feni, Cumilla, Chandpur, Brahmanbaria, Lakshmipur, Noakhali, Cox's Bazar, Khagrachhari, and Rangamati in Chattogram division; Khulna, Kushtia, Jashore, Jhenidah, Bagerhat, Satkhira, and Chuadanga in Khulna division; Rajshahi, Bogura, Pabna, Sirajganj, Naogaon, Chapainawabganj and Natore in Rajshahi division; Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Nilphamari, Dinajpur, Panchagarh, and Thakurgaon in Rangpur division; Barishal, Patuakhali, Bhola, Pirojpur, and Jhalakathi in Barishal division; and Sylhet in Sylhet division.

City schools

With little faith in the anti-mosquito drives of city corporations, schools in the capital have intensified measures to prevent mosquitoes and dengue. Some even opted to pay staffers of city corporations to fumigate their compounds regularly.

Despite the measures, some guardians have stopped sending their children to schools.

At the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Government Boys' High School, there is an open drain filled with stagnant water that could be a breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes, which carries and spreads the dengue virus. There is an under-construction building inside the compound as well.

"We are all worried. You see an open drain and under-construction building here," said parent Julia Ferdous when The Daily Star correspondent visited the school yesterday afternoon.

The school in Agargaon has around 2,300 students.

Teacher Doly Devi said the school authorities were trying their best to keep the drain and the construction site clean by scattering bleaching powder, and pouring kerosene. They also spray mosquito repellents as Dhaka North City Corporation was not conducting anti-mosquito drives regularly.

"We have notified students of what to do to be safe," she said, adding that students' attendance has slightly dropped.

At the gate of Monipur High School and College in Sheorapara, packets of crisps and biscuits were littered, which could contain rainwater and help breed mosquitoes.

A few parents waiting for their children there said some parents were not sending their children to school.

The school authorities did not allow The Daily Star correspondent to enter the school compound and Assistant Head Teacher Aklash Ahmed refused to make any comments.

Construction materials, especially bamboo, were seen stacked here and there inside Rajdhani High School.

Head Teacher Mozammel Huq Miah said contractors had removed most of the materials. The remaining stuff would be moved soon.

He said school attendance had dropped by 10 percent.

"City corporation men fumigate once a week. Given the current situation, they should do it at least twice a week," he said.

Tejgaon Government High School has not been holding classes on the ground floor for a couple of weeks. A student of class VI of the school died of dengue on June 21.

"In the last two days, we sent four students home as they were suffering from fever," said Head Teacher Shahrin Khan Rupa.

Teachers said during assemblies, they try to make students aware of dengue and have circulated leaflets among them.

At Udayan Higher Secondary School, many classes had 30 to 40 percent students absent, Jahura Begum, a teacher of the school said.

Many parents have expressed concern and requested the school authorities to close the school for some time.

English-medium schools

Sunnydale, a reputed English-medium school, opened in the second week of this month after the summer break. The school has been pouring kerosene in surrounding drains and every morning staffers spray anti-mosquito aerosol in all classrooms before letting students in, said Yasmeen Habib, vice principal of the school's senior section.

Just before twilight, incense is burnt to keep mosquitoes away.

She said the school pays city corporation staffers to fumigate the school twice a week.

Four-five students were diagnosed with dengue and they are now at home. "We are doing what we can. But this will not stop mosquitoes from biting us."

Parents need to be aware of how to prevent dengue as well, the vice principal said.

Sunbeams, in Dhanmondi, stopped allowing students to play outside during breaks and game classes about three weeks ago. There is an in-school doctor too.

The school has also been paying city corporation staffers to fumigate its compound thrice a week for the last three weeks, said Shamim Ahmed, of the school management.

"Parents have become aware. They are sending children with anti-mosquito patches or mosquito-repellent cream," said Shamina Mainuddin, head of the junior section of the school.

As Shamina was speaking to The Daily Star correspondent, the grandparent of a student suggested that students be asked to wear full-sleeved shirts and long trousers.

The school immediately notified all parents via text that students should wear casuals until further notice. For boys full-sleeved shirts or T-shirts and girls full-sleeved dresses with tights.

"Please ensure that children use mosquito repellent/patch before coming to school," Sunbeams asked the parents.

Asked about allegations of irregular drives and taking money for services, Dhaka North City Corporation Chief Health Officer Brig Gen Mominur Rahman Mamun said, "We have heard of money being paid for fumigations. But the problem is when city corporation staffers go to schools in the morning, they are not allowed to enter. And when they go in the afternoon, schools are closed."

If the schools let the authorities know the convenient time, Mamun said, "Staffers will go and deliver the service."

High Court directive

The High Court yesterday asked the government to monitor if private hospitals and diagnostic centres were charging patients more than the government-set fees for dengue tests.

The court passed the suo moto order after Deputy Attorney General ABM Abdullah-Al Mahmud Bashar and Supreme Court lawyer Mustaque Ahmed Chowdhury told the court that the government had fixed specific fees for dengue tests.

Meanwhile, DGHS Director (Hospital) Aminul Hasan said 10 monitoring teams of the directorate inspected 23 private hospitals and diagnostic centres and found that most of them were charging the fees set by the government.

However, Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection fined two diagnostic centres Tk 1 lakh for overcharging, said Manjur Mohammad Shahriar, deputy director (Dhaka division) of the DNCRP.

He said they fined Ibn Sina and Popular Diagnostic Centre in Dhanmondi Tk 50,000 each.