A six-year-old girl passed away on Thursday in Coimbatore due to complications associated with dengue. This comes just two days after a controversial statement by Tamil Nadu Minister for Municipal Administration, Rural Development and Special Schemes Implementation, S.P. Velumani, where he denied that there had been any deaths due to dengue in Coimbatore.
Vismitha, a 6-year-old, had been suffering from fever for the past week. She had tested positive for dengue and had been admitted at the Coimbatore Child Trust Hospital. On Thursday, when her condition worsened, she was taken to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital (CMCH), but was declared brought dead.
Speaking to TNM, a doctor from the CMCH said that eight to ten deaths due to dengue have been recorded in the hospital in the past year. However, the doctor added that the number of dengue cases from Coimbatore has been decreasing, while the hospital continues to receive cases from other districts such as Karur, Namakkal, and Tirupur. There are currently 45 dengue positive cases out of a total 142 fever cases, the doctor said.
Vismitha’s death comes two days after Minister SP Velumani told media persons that the Coimbatore administration was well prepared to combat the dengue problem in the district.
When asked why the five-member Central government panel that visited Tamil Nadu to study the state government’s dengue-related efforts did not visit Coimbatore, Minister Velumani said, “There have been no deaths, so they did not come here.”
The Minister had also sought to downplay concerns relating to the spread of dengue.
“There has been an increasing number of fever cases, there are 35 people admitted. Fever is very common – if a person drinks different water itself they can get fever, which will be there for two or three days. Everyone is panicked and coming to the hospital, so the hospitals are getting overcrowded. The Central government team has said that Tamil Nadu government is working well on reducing the number of dengue cases. And Coimbatore has a lower number of dengue cases compared to other districts,” Velumani had said.
Speaking about the measures being taken by the government, Velumani said that special wards and nodal officers have been tasked for dengue-prevention efforts on a war footing. “Nilavembu kashayam and papaya leaf juice is being distributed everywhere. Every corporation and panchayat, has been forming teams to tackle dengue prevention. We have been working to ensure that by morning 6am, workers should start the work like fogging, bleaching, and should eliminate the sources of mosquito breeding,” he said.
The Minister also said that health department and local body officials had been tasked to conduct regular field visits to make sure that their zones become dengue-free.
Velumani also took a dig at DMK Working President Stalin, who recently accused of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami of not doing anything to stop the spread of dengue, and “only participating in MGR Centenary events”. Velumani said that Stalin had no grounds from which to criticise the AIADMK government.
“In this issue, they should not do politics. When the DMK government was in power, there were many dengue and even Chikungunya cases, but at that time they did not see anything. Now, that it is Amma’s government, they are finding fault,” said Velumani. He also accused Stalin of not being concerned with people’s welfare but only in toppling the government and becoming Chief Minister, himself.
Even before Vismitha’s case, the death toll in Coimbatore had reportedly risen to nine last month after two children succumbed to dengue at the Coimbatore General Hospital on September 26. The victims were a seven-year-old girl, Yazhini V, and a seven-year-old boy, Bharath who passed away due to viral haemorrhagic fever.
According to a report in The Hindu, there has been an increase in the number of fever and dengue cases in Coimbatore this year. CMCH had reported 1,319 in-patients diagnosed with dengue in August this year, which is the highest monthly volume in the last several years. Last year, the highest number of cases had been recorded in January, which saw a total of 338 cases.