• February 22, 2018
    Last updated less than one minute ago

sri lanka

Dengue death toll rises to 301 in Sri Lanka

Hospitals are stretched to capacity, health officials say

Agencies
14:02 July 25, 2017

Colombo: The number of dengue cases has gone up to 105,000 in Sri Lanka with 301 deaths, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society said on Tuesday.

The Red Cross said it was rapidly scaling up emergency assistance to help contain one of the country’s worst-ever outbreak of dengue in recent times, reports Xinhua News Agency.

The number of cases this year is already nearly double the number of dengue infections recorded in all of 2016 when 55,150 people were diagnosed with the disease.

“Dengue is endemic here but one reason for the dramatic rise in cases is that the virus currently spreading has evolved and people lack the immunity to fight off the new strain,” Novil Wijesekara from the Sri Lanka Red Cross said in a statement.

Compounding the crisis, monsoon rains and floods have left pools of stagnant water and rotting rain-soaked trash, which have been ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes.

Ongoing downpour and worsening sanitation conditions raise concerns the disease will continue to spread.

Hospitals are stretched to capacity, health officials said on Monday.

They blamed recent monsoon rains and floods that have left pools of stagnant water and rotting rain-soaked trash — ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes that carry the virus.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is scaling up emergency assistance to Sri Lanka with the Sri Lanka Red Cross to help contain the outbreak.

“Dengue patients are streaming into overcrowded hospitals that are stretched beyond capacity and struggling to cope, particularly in the country’s hardest hit western province,” Red Cross/Red Crescent said in a statement.

According to the World Health Organisation, dengue is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases, endemic in 100 countries, with as many as 390 million infections annually. Early detection and treatment save lives when infections are severe, particularly for young children.

The Sri Lankan government is struggling to control the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms and can develop into the deadly haemorrhagic dengue fever.

The ministry of health said the number of dengue infections has climbed above 100,000 since the start of 2017, with 296 deaths.

“Ongoing downpours and worsening sanitation conditions raise concerns the disease will continue to spread,” Red Cross/Red Crescent said.

Its assistance comes a week after Australia announced programmes to help control dengue fever in Sri Lanka.

“Dengue is endemic here, but one reason for the dramatic rise in cases is that the virus currently spreading has evolved and people lack the immunity to fight off the new strain,” Novil Wijesekara, head of health at the Sri Lanka Red Cross said in a statement.