The latest wave of Covid-19 infections in South Asian nations has been complicated by a surge in dengue, a mosquito-transmitted virus. The rise in cases of dengue is adding to the load of hospitals that are already overwhelmed. Sri Lanka has reported over 17,000 cases this year, including 3,300 in July. Bangladesh has recorded about 4,500 cases of hospitalisation for dengue this year, nearly half of them in July. “The health system is already overburdened by Covid-19 patients,” said Dr. Himali Herath, a consultant physician at Sri Lanka’s National Dengue Control Unit. “Caring for dengue patients is labour-intensive. Therefore it will be very difficult.” The WHO estimates that there are hundreds of millions of dengue infections every year, and nearly two-thirds occur in Asia. There is no specific treatment for the virus, and severe cases can lead to death if not detected early and if patients do not receive adequate medical care.
“Due to the heavy stream of Covid-19 patients, we are turning dengue patients to other hospitals,” said Brig. Gen. Nazmul Haque, the director of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Bangladesh. “We are only treating the patients who are infected with both Covid and dengue.”
Dengue outbreaks also remain endemic in Nepal and Pakistan. In Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, officials said the main hospital that treated dengue patients in previous years had been turned into a Covid hospital. The government lab where all suspected dengue cases would usually be referred to for testing has also been overwhelmed with coronavirus tests, they said.