With rise in dengue cases in Delhi, MCD earmarks 250 hot spots


With an uptick in dengue cases observed in the national capital, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has earmarked 250 vulnerable hot spots where officials observed high rates of mosquito breeding this year, saying they fear this may lead to the infection spreading further.

“These areas are relatively more vulnerable to the spread of infection. Therefore, we will especially focus on these areas and increase fogging drives, awareness activities and the sprinkling of larvicides here. Domestic breeding checkers and field workers are going door to door to destroy mosquito breeding sites that emerge due to water logging and stagnating water,” a senior municipal official of the public health department said.

The national capital registered 412 cases of dengue in the last week of September, taking the tally of the mosquito-borne illness to 937 in 2022, the vector borne disease report released by MCD on October 3 showed. No death due to dengue took place this year.

A senior MCD official said that each of these areas face unique challenges. (HT Illustration)

A majority of these cases — 693 of them or 73.9% — emerged in September, civic officials said, adding that Delhi had last observed such a high number of dengue cases in the month of September five years ago, in 2017—2,152. They fear the number is likely to rise in the coming weeks due to forecast of rain. Delhi had witnessed a continuous spell of rain during the last week of September, leading to heavy water logging in several areas. According to the seven-day forecast of the regional meteorological centre of the India Meteorological Department, Delhi is again likely to witness generally cloudy sky with light to moderate rain and thundershowers at most places on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday while cloudy weather is predicted for Wednesday and Thursday, an IMD official said.

In comparison to the 937 cases registered till September 28 this year, the city registered 341 cases in the corresponding period in 2021, 266 cases in 2020, 356 cases in 2019, 650 cases in 2018 and 2,152 cases in 2017.

The action taken report from the civic body shows that domestic breeding checkers detected 130,544 sites with mosquito larvae in 2022, of which 16,786 mosquito breeding sites were found in the past couple of weeks. The geographical distribution of cases shows that the highest number of sites—21,274—were found in Central zone, followed by 19,231 sites in West zone, 17,104 sites in Najafgarh and 15,802 sites in the South zone. Ninety four per cent of Delhi’s geographical area is under the 12 administrative zones of the MCD.

A municipal official associated with the anti-mosquito drive said that these areas have been identified based on previous history of cases, high rates of mosquito breeding, water hyacinth, flooding of basements, proximity to the Yamuna as well as the presence of potential water breeding sites in the form of drains, water storing containers, water logging issues among other factors. “Water supply infrastructure is linked to the vulnerability of an area. Many of these areas face water supply-related issues due to which residents are forced to store water in jerry cans and containers which act as breeding sites,” the official explained. Dengue is caused by the bite of Aedes Agypti mosquito and its larvae breed in clear water in leftover cups, pots, tyres, flowerpots, open utensils, and water coolers, among other items.

A senior MCD official said that each of these areas face unique challenges. “In some areas, water storage practices lead to problems while in others, stagnating water leads to breeding. In yet others, water in coolers and uncovered overhead tanks lead to mosquito breeding sites,” an MCD report noted.

In an official statement,MCD on Friday said it has intensified fogging at the hot spots to destroy mosquito breeding. “MCD is adopting various measures to destroy mosquito breeding at these sites such as spraying of insecticides, focal spray or fogging, releasing larvivorous fishes in large water bodies etc. Special focus is being given to large water bodies and drains which are being covered by power spray tankers and motorised pumps. Domestic breeding checkers have visited approximately 26.1 million houses this year and fogged 1,188,282 houses,” the corporation said. During a special drive conducted for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases, 30% of construction sites in city were found positive for breeding and 14% of the parks and nurseries were found to be positive.

The severity of the outbreak last year also prompted the Delhi high court to take suo motu cognizance of the matter and suggest an increase in spot fines on multiple occasions. On Friday, the high court asked the state government to inform it about the outcome of the proposal to raise the on-the-spot fine for institutions where mosquitoes are found breeding from 5,000 to 50,000.A bench of chief justice Satish Chandra Sharma and justice Subramonium Prasad granted four weeks to the authorities to submit a reply and listed the matter for further hearing on December 9.

“It is brought to the notice of the court that the Delhi government was directed to examine the proposal of imposition of on-the-spot fines at 50,000 and the counsel appearing for Delhi government has stated that the matter is under consideration. Accordingly, Delhi government is granted four weeks’ time to inform about the outcome of the same,” the bench said.

The high court was informed by the Delhi government’s counsel that the proposal for increasing the penalty is pending consideration and the process will take some time.

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