National dengue alert issued over spike in cases

SEREMBAN: The country is on a national dengue alert after the number of dengue cases spiked to 9,119 in the first three weeks of the year with 16 deaths so far.

Of the 16 fatal cases, six were reported in Selangor, three each in Penang and Negri Sembilan, two in Johor while Perak and Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya had one each.

There were 3,338 cases recorded during the same period last year with seven deaths.

Statistics released by the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) showed that an average of 480 cases was recorded daily in the first 19 days of 2019 compared with 175 during the same period last year.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said dengue cases have been on the rise since the 43rd week of 2018 with an increase of between 6% and 25% every week.

“In the first three weeks of this year, we have been getting more than 3,000 cases a week,” he said in a directive to all state health departments to be on the alert.

Selangor had the most cases with 5,249 compared with 1,637 last year followed by Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya 784 (281), Penang 763 (269) and Johor 742 (410).

Labuan which had only one case during the period last year had seven this time while Terengganu had 87 cases compared with nine previously.

Dr Noor Hisham instructed state health departments to use all available resources to check the spread including deploying officers from districts not affected by dengue to the affected areas.

“They are also to reactivate their respective district epidemic committees and state dengue task force and get every related agency involved in prevention work.

“The respective legal and inspectorate units must coordinate all enforcement work till March as part of the measure to reduce the number of cases,” he said in the directive.

Dr Noor Hisham added that awareness programmes carried out through Pasukan Khas Pendidikan Kesihatan must be held in dengue hotspots.

“The health authorities will have to work with the local councils to carry out enforcement especially in vacant lots and to conduct outdoor residual spraying in strata buildings which have become hotspots. All community and health clinics must be equipped with Combo Rapid Test Kits to allow its personnel to diagnose suspected dengue cases.

“The frontline personnel must also be trained to identify the warning signs and severe dengue,” he said adding that the intensive care units and wards at all hospitals must be ready to handle severe dengue cases.

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