Hos­pi­tals over­whelmed as Sri Lanka dengue toll nears 300

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Colombo, Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka an­nounced on Mon­day it was in­ten­si­fy­ing its war on dengue fever, with schools to shut across the is­land to help curb the un­prece­dented out­break of the mos­quito-borne virus that has claimed nearly 300 lives.

The Red Cross also an­nounced it was scal­ing up its emer­gency re­sponse to the coun­try’s worst-ever out­break of the dis­ease as the num­ber of dengue cases topped 100,000.

That fig­ure is nearly dou­ble the pre­vi­ous year, with doc­tors warn­ing hos­pi­tals were be­yond ca­pac­ity as medics strug­gled to treat a new strain of the dis­ease.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry said schools would shut from Fri­day for four days as tens of thou­sands of vol­un­teers join gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and sol­diers in tar­get­ing mos­quito breed­ing grounds.

“Instructions have gone out to all schools to­day to co­or­di­nate with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and look for any mos­quito breed­ing ar­eas in their im­me­di­ate neigh­bour­hood,” a min­istry official said.

Troops have al­ready been spread­ing out across the is­land to help lo­cal coun­cils drain pools of stag­nant wa­ter to en­sure mos­quito lar­vae have nowhere to flour­ish.

Official fig­ures show 290 peo­ple have died so far this year from dengue fever, nearly four times the fa­tal­i­ties recorded in all of 2016.

The num­ber of cases has soared to above 105,000, a sharp jump from the 55,150 recorded last year.

About half those cases were re­ported from the is­land’s west, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal Colombo.

‘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’, Dr Novil Wi­je­sekara, head of health at the Sri Lanka Red Cross, said in a state­ment.

This file photo shows a boy throw­ing rub­bish onto a pile of garbage on a street in Colombo on June 26. About half of over 100,000 dengue cases were re­ported from the Sri Lanka's west, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal Colombo

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