At least 30 people have so far lost their lives due to dengue viral infection at seven leading public and private health facilities in Karachi following an unprecedented surge in the vector-borne disease cases during the last six weeks, officials and experts confirmed to The News on Thursday.
An investigation carried out by The News revealed that deaths due to dengue occurred at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK), Indus Hospital Karachi, Darul Sehat Hospital, South City Hospital, National Institute of Child Health (NICH) Karachi and Liaquat National Hospital.
Many health facilities refused to provide data to The News, while others confirmed that dengue had caused deaths during the last few weeks but sought time to provide the confirmed number of dengue cases and deaths.
Ironically, the Sindh health department has reported only one death due to dengue viral infection in Karachi, which occurred in District East, although the disease surveillance officials associated with the Sindh Director General Health said that the number of deaths due to dengue reported to them so far was six.
“At least 11 people have died due to complications of dengue viral infection at the Aga Khan University Hospital so far in this year. Most of the deaths occurred during the last six weeks when dengue fever cases surged unprecedentedly,” said an official of the AKUH.
He explained that these patients had died due to dengue shock syndrome and other complications of the viral infection. He added that the AKUH had regularly been notifying such deaths to the Sindh health department and other relevant institutions in the province.
Although both public and private hospitals in Karachi have a large number of patients infected with dengue, the AKUH official said the admitted cases were just the tip of the iceberg. “For every person with symptoms [of dengue fever], there is at least one without symptoms. Most dengue patients will only have fever for three to four days, and settle and will never come to the clinic. Those that come to the clinic, most do not need admission,” he said.
The medical superintendent of the CHK, Dr Rubina Bashir, said they had so far admitted 187 patients with dengue, of whom three died during treatment at the health facility. “We have tested 9,020 patients with symptoms, of whom 720 tested positive for the dengue fever. Around 187 of them were admitted to the hospital, mostly in last six weeks, of whom three have died due to complications of the disease”, she added.
The Indus Hospital administration also confirmed that at least three patients had died of dengue during treatment at their intensive care units, saying the last death occurred on September 6, 2022.
“From January 1, 2022, till September 6, 2022, three patients have died due to dengue,” Prof Dr Abdul Bari Khan, the chief executive of the Indus Health Network, told The News.
The administration of the South City Hospital also confirmed that there was at least one death at the health facility due to dengue fever last month while officials at the Liaquat National Hospital Karachi said that although there were several deaths among patients infected with dengue fever, the death of at least one young woman could be attributed to dengue shock syndrome.
An official in the Darul Sehat Hospital Karachi confirmed that at least five people had died due to complications of dengue fever at their health facility in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. The official added that there were several patients under treatment for the vector-borne viral infection, some of whom were seriously sick.
Officials at the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) Karachi said at least six children had lost their lives due to complications of dengue fever during the last two months.
Health dept’s version
Claiming that only one death had occurred due to the complications of dengue viral fever in Karachi, Additional Director of Vector-Borne Diseases Sindh Dr Teerath Das said they had only received confirmation of a single mortality due to dengue in the city.
“As reports of deaths take a couple of days to reach us at the health department, we are not aware of any mortalities they took place today or yesterday,” Dr Das said, adding that although the number of dengue cases were all time high in Sindh, they were doing their best to contain the outbreak in the province, including Karachi.
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