LAHORE: Five more people, including a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA, died of dengue in Lahore on Thursday, as the number of confirmed cases hit an unprecedented 11,915.
Chaudhary Mumtaz Ahmed Jajja, aged 63, was admitted to Jinnah Hospital seven days ago and despite doctors’ best efforts, his health continued to deteriorate, a doctor at the hospital told The Express Tribune. He had been on ventilator for last few days.
Jajja served as Member National Assembly (MNA) during 1985-88 and was elected MPA in the 2008 elections. He was also the parliamentary secretary for education in the Punjab Assembly.
“Everyone has to die one day, but we tried our level best to save his life. We did everything possible for his comfort,” Mumtaz Jajja’s son Chaudhary Khalid Jajja told The Express Tribune. He said that funeral prayers for his father would be held in Bahawalpur today (Friday).
In the past 24 hours, 331 new confirmed cases of dengue were reported in Punjab, out of which 279 were from Lahore. The total number of patients in Punjab has reached 11,915, whereas in Lahore the total number of patients is 10,525. The death toll from dengue stands at 120 in Punjab, of which 111 deaths were reported in Lahore.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, at least 130 people have been diagnosed with dengue and six have died. Sindh has seen 400 suspected cases and six deaths.
Locals blame government’s inefficiency
Authorities in Lahore have blamed the crisis on prolonged monsoon rains and unusually high seasonal temperatures.
But furious locals say the outbreak is yet another example of government inefficiency, citing a failure to take preventive measures to kill off the mosquitos and lengthy power cuts.
Banners emblazoned with giant sketches of mosquitos and public warning messages such as “Eliminate dengue, Have peace” are hung across avenues and crossings in Lahore.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has urged doctors to do more to restore calm. “You are doing a wonderful job, but we have to bring down the mortality rate so that the people will be calmed,” he said at a workshop this week.
In much of Lahore, life carries on as normal with some establishments as crowded as ever in the cooler evenings. Others cannot afford to be ruffled.
Mohammad Naeem, a 50-year-old roadside telephone vendor, said he had no alternative but to brave the risk.
“No sir, we do not apply any lotion. It’s very expensive. We can hardly buy a loaf of bread. They come to our doorsteps to beg for votes, but they do not come to spray,” he complained.
Influx of patients
Hospitals are overwhelmed, treating around 1,113 people and having already sent home another 10,000 to recuperate, said Asif Nadeem, a member of a hastily set up anti-dengue task force.
At Lahore General Hospital, where most cases have been reported, the corridors were packed with patients and relatives making it difficult to breathe.
Outside, medics set up large tents to accommodate family members and patients waiting for treatment, offering some shelter in the sweltering heat.
“We have no complaints about the arrangements, but they are not going beyond giving out paracetamol,” Rashid Hameed, 27, an accountant, told AFP.
ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2011.