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Dengue spreads wings, depts pass the buck 

Chandigarh: While the Health and Local Bodies Departments are busy pointing fingers at each other, more than 9,000 confirmed and 14,000 suspected cases of dengue have been reported across the state. It is the third consecutive year when the dengue virus has affected such large number of people.None of the two departments, mainly responsible for curtailing and treating the disease, is ready to own the responsibility.Dr Gagandeep Singh Grover, nodal officer for Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme, said the Health Department was only responsible for diagnosing and treating the patients. “The onus of controlling mosquito breeding lies with the Local Bodies,” he said. But even on medical care front, the Health Department’s infrastructure is lacking with government hospitals refusing to admit patients till their platelet count comes down to 10,000.Dr Grover claimed that 1,125 beds were reserved for dengue patients in government hospitals and the department had also started diagnostic laboratories at the district level.Incidentally, the Health Minister’s own district is one of the worst affected in the state. Around 1,800 cases and one casualty have been reported from Patiala. The situation is such that all beds reserved for dengue patients, including 50 in Rajindra Hospital and 35 in Mata Kaushalya Hospital, are occupied. Now, patients are being kept in general wards under mosquito nets. The patients are struggling to get admitted as the hospitals are only obliging patients whose platelet count is less than 10,000. The situation is not much better at other major towns including Bathinda.Interestingly, Haryana that has similar climate conditions as Punjab has reported just around 1,750 cases. Even last year, the number of cases reported in Haryana was less than one-fourth of Punjab. At the national level, despite having smaller population, Punjab is fifth on the list of states hit by dengue.Experts say more cases will keep coming till the end of November. The onus of controlling dengue lies with the Local Bodies Department in urban areas and the Rural Development Department in villages. Their efforts can be measured from the fact that some of the local bodies, including Malout and Dasuya, floated tenders to purchase fogging machines and medicines only last week. Ideally, they should have been ready with such supplies before April. Till last year, the department was found spraying a wrong insecticide (deltamethrin) to check mosquito breeding.Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

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