ECONOMYNEXT – Dengue cases in Sri Lanka plunged by 70.67 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year with movements being restricted and a drop in pollution, health officials said.
“In 2020 we identified 30,802 dengue patients compared to 105,049 in 2019, which is a considerable improvement,” Dr Indika Weerasinghe of the Health Ministry’s National Dengue Control Unit (NDCU) told EconomyNext.
“This is mainly owing to the restrictions imposed during the lockdown, which gave people an opportunity to concentrate on their surroundings, clean their environment and prevent mosquito-breeding,” he added.
A health ministry study showed that of the 105,049 dengue cases in 2019, nearly 50% were recorded in the fourth quarter. This increase was continued to the early months of the following year, when nearly 50% of cases for 2020 were reported during January and February.
However, starting in March 2020, a rapid decrease in cases was observed throughout the year, totaling at 30,802. Last year’s numbers are on par with the dengue statistics for the years 2011, 2013 and 2015 at 28,473, 32,063 and 29,777 respectively.
With 12 percent of the country total being reported from Batticaloa, the district recorded the highest incidence of dengue in 2020 at 700 patients per 100,000 people surveyed. Since the 39th week of last year, the district has contributed to 66% of the cases reported island wide.
In January 2021, Sri Lanka recorded 1,360 dengue cases with the highest number recorded again in the Baticaloa district amounting to 794. Colombo recorded 97, while Gampaha and Kurunegala recorded 44 and 43 respectively. In February so far 1,002 patients have been reported island wide.
The study noted in its report that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic situation prevailing in the country, the regular dengue control measures were carried out uninterrupted through the central, provincial, district and Medical Officers of Health (MOH) level health teams
“During 2020, six Special Mosquito Control Campaigns were carried out by the NDCU targeting high risk areas for outbreaks, inspecting over 200, 000 premises island wide,” the report said.
Daily premise inspections through Saukya Karya Sahayaka (Mosquito Control) personnel were carried out at the MOH level adapting to local situations, Dr Weerasinghe said, noting that a guide for field inspections on COVID 19 precautions was also developed and implemented by the NDCU for all involved field staff.
“The inter-sectoral coordination which is vital for successful implementation of dengue control activities was sustained in Western Province through regular reviews kept number of dengue patients within the province at bay,” he added.
Dr Weerasinghe further said only 35 dengue-related deaths were reported in 2020 compared to 157 reported a year earlier.
The NDCU study further reveals that during the premise inspection programmes conducted during the recent years, the leading premise types for mosquito breeding were construction sites, schools, institutions, harbours, public places, etc, while residences reported comparatively lower breeding places.
Staying at home might have, therefore, reduced the human contact with high risk localities for mosquito breeding, the study noted.
Reported by Chanka Jayasinghe (Colombo/Feb17/2021)