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'Off' bane in vector fight

Dengue Dread

Calcutta: Dengue doesn't have a Sunday but the Calcutta Municipal Corporation has.

Sources said the civic body had withdrawn its order asking the vector control workers and doctors to work on all seven days a week, at a time the dengue outbreak seems to be at its peak.

According to figures available with the civic body, around 600 people have been infected with the dengue virus in the city this year.

From August 6 till September, the civic health department had functioned all seven days of the week. Doctors and vector control workers - those responsible for destroying mosquito larvae - had to work even on Sundays.

But over the past three weeks, health department officials said, the employees have been getting their weekly off on Sunday. Not a single civic clinic opened on the past three Sundays, the officials said.

Atin Ghosh, mayoral council member in charge of health, however, denied that the employees were being allowed to take their weekly off. "The clinics were closed only this Sunday. Our health workers as well as doctors have worked without a leave since August," said Ghosh.

Civic officials, speaking on the condition that they would not be named, admitted that keeping the clinics closed and suspending all health-related activities on Sundays was not a wise decision at a time dengue was spreading fast.

Several Calcuttans questioned the rationale behind the decision. "The authorities should have kept in mind that the OPDs of all hospitals are closed on Sundays," said a resident of Kasba, where many people have tested positive for dengue.

There are many houses whose occupants are home only on Sundays. "If health workers do not report for work on Sundays, how will we verify whether there are any mosquito larvae on the premises?" wondered an official.

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