The civic authorities in Salt Lake and Calcutta decided to step up their door-to-door campaign against dengue on Friday, following a statement by chief minister Mamata Banerjee outlining actions that should have been taken long ago.
In addition to counselling people, city civic representatives visiting households will distribute leaflets (see picture) containing tips to fight dengue.
Mamata’s fresh statement on the outbreak, second since Tuesday, resulted in a flurry of activity at various levels, with officials at Swasthya Bhavan and the civic bodies in Calcutta and Salt Lake holding meetings to try and tie up the loose ends in their duel against dengue.
The chief minister stressed the importance of spreading awareness to deal with dengue. “In Salt Lake, we are sending health department nurses to houses. The nurses have already counselled residents of around 2,500 homes. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation, too, has engaged volunteers in the door-to-door campaign. They have covered 12 lakh houses. We are distributing leaflets and will soon release advertisements listing the dos and don’ts. I have asked them to continue the good work,” Mamata said.
The CMC has been distributing old leaflets listing steps to tackle all vector-borne diseases. By Friday evening, samples of the new dengue-specific leaflets had reached the civic headquarters.
“We have ordered 20 lakh leaflets initially. The distribution will begin shortly,” said an official.
The new leaflet, featuring the silhouette of a giant Aedis aegypti mosquito that causes dengue, says, “In case you have sudden fever, get your blood tested for Dengue and get your Platelet Count done to know dengue-related complications, free of cost, at your Ward Health Unit” of the civic body.
Overleaf, the leaflet asks those suffering from fever to consult a physician and take paracetamol. It warns against taking “Aspirin/Ibuprofen types of medicines”.
It also asks residents to make sure water tanks are cleaned regularly and water does not accumulate in unused or abandoned tyres.
The final message is to keep “as much of your body covered with clothes from dawn to dusk” as possible because the dengue mosquito is a day biter.
To ensure the message reaches everyone, the tips have been printed in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and English.
The chief minister in her statement attacked the CPM-run Howrah Municipal Corporation for flouting rules by “charging Rs 500” for a blood test at its clinic.
“Howrah niye ami chinta-te achhi (I am worried about Howrah). That they are charging money has been pointed out by the central team (from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme). I can’t pull down the Howrah civic board but I appeal to it that it mends its ways,” she said.
Soon after, the civic body shut down the clinic that it claimed functioned on a no-profit-no-loss basis.
Mamata blamed “flawed” NS1 tests “conducted at private hospitals” for the swelling dengue count in and around the city.
A health department official said a new ELISA-based NS1 tests kit, which can predict dengue with 90 per cent accuracy on the second day of fever, was used at government hospitals and CMC clinics for the first time. “Twenty-five such kits have arrived and more will come. Each kit can test 100 samples,” the official said.