Amid pandemic, vector-borne diseases witness decline in Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Telangana has witnessed a 50 percent dip in the number of vector-borne diseases like Malaria, as compared to previous years, said state government officials from the Public Health department on Tuesday. Data showed that this year, until August, the numbers have been low so far as compared to 2019.

The Public Health Department has said that the dip was due to timely action, as well as an emphasis on preventive measures taken amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year, so far, 1,777 cases of dengue and 620 cases of malaria have been reported. According to official statistics, 2,333 cases of Dengue fever  and 1,140 Malaria cases were reported in Telangana.

‘Restriction and increased in awareness major reasons

Public health specialist and director of the Public Health Department, Dr G. Srinivas Rao said, “When ASHA workers conduct home-to-home surveillance, they enquire about dengue, malaria and other diseases besides COVID-19. Our staff also urged people not to allow water to stagnate in any container in and around their homes. This was to ensure there are no mosquito breeding sites. Besides, spraying and fogging operations were taken up during containment of COVID-19.”

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He further stated that clearing of stagnant water, spraying of chemicals during the pandemic time, extensive sanitation and fumigation were carried on a large scale since the coronavirus pandemic started. “These were routine exercise by GHMC, DRF officials as well,” pointed out Dr. Srinivasa Rao at a press conference on Tuesday.

It may be noted that restrictions and fewer outdoor activities could be a major reason behind the dip in vector-borne diseases in the city. Furthermore, the Public Health Department stated that there is a decrease in COVID-19 cases this month though September had heavy rains this year.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended norms, the Public Health department has conducted tests in the state. According to state government data, the state positive rate in July was 23 percent, 7 percent in August and now in September, it stands at 4 percent. “Earlier the situation was pretty bad but now it better as distress among the people has come down. In the first week of August, people ran from pillar to post to get admitted into hospitals for treating the infection, so we can say that the panic has drastically come down among people,” said Dr. Srinivas Rao.

Currently, Telangana has 1,89,283 active cases, which is less compared to Delhi, Assam and Kerala. The tests per million of the population in September is 79,206.

“Number of admissions in the government and private hospitals has been declining in September  as compared to previous months. Earlier 72 to 80 percent beds were occupied during the pandemic and now it is not. There are 9,500 beds in private hospitals and their occupancy is 35 per cent right now and among this 25 per cent people are from other states. In any corporate hospital such as Apollo, Care or Yashoda especially, some of the patients are from neighbouring states,” added Dr. Srinivasa Rao

As many as 29 lakhs tests were done across the state till now. When asked people with symptoms testing negative for COVID-19 in Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT), Dr. Srinivasa Rao stated that suspected patients must insist for Real Time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test results.

The department has also set up 20 mobile vehicles to collect RT-PCR results, especially for areas which have high positive cases. In the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits, the department has also set up ten mobile vehicles to perform RT-PCR tests, officials informed.

The public health department further stated that as each and every activity in the state is resuming and fully operating the department has urged that IT companies in the city should resume its operations from office. “Now that the situation is under control in GHMC limits, factories and offices are operating. But when it comes to the IT corridor, they have adopted to work from home due to the fear of getting infected. Managements of companies may be happy as the cost of infrastructure, electricity and transportation facilities that they provide to their employees is now down, but there are lakhs of people like labourers, outsourcing employees whose livelihoods is depending if the company is operating,” Dr. Srinivasa Rao said.

Reinfection of COVID cases in Hyderabad

According to the public health department there are few cases of reinfection of COVID-19 also. People who work in the medical field have tested positive again, as they are continuously exposing and treating the COVID patients.

“The Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences, there are three people who got reinfected for COVID and around six people in Apollo hospital got again infected with COVID even after recovering as, they treat patients,” Dr G Srinivas Rao.

Availability of beds in the Telangana

Availability of beds for COVID-19 patients in 55 private hospitals are listed according to 1) Regular beds 2) Oxygen beds 3) ICU beds. As per the details in the bulletin, there were 339 ICU beds, 466 oxygen beds, and 660 regular beds vacant at the private hospitals. This raises questions on why some of the hospitals told people that beds were not available in their health facility.

Concluding the press conference the Directorate of Public Health Department said, “There is drop in Covid-19 cases in the month of September but yet the situation is not better, people need to follow the safety measures, recently to see the Durgam Cheruvu cable bridge large number of people gathered at the newly opened cable bridge which is very dangerous in the pandemic time. The Health department urged people to wear face mask, sanitise hands, maintain social distancing and avoid mass gatherings as it is the only way to fight against the virus, “Until we get the vaccine for COVID-19 following safety measures and taking all precautions are the only vaccine for us,” Dr G Srinivas Rao added.

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