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July 03, 2020

Stay vigilant to remain safe from dengue, COVID-19

We have been experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever more frequently, especially during the rainy season, with fewer gaps in between cases.
Infection rates usually spike in the rainy season, especially in July and August.
However, infections are found year-round in Myanmar, necessitating year-round monitoring. Just because we are battling COVID we should not forget other dangers, such as dengue and chikungunya, which strike during the rainy season. According to the Ministry of Health and sports, from January 1st up to May 30, there have been 1,480 cases of dengue fever and 11 deaths in our country. Sagaing Region is leading with about 300 cases and three deaths, overtaking Yangon which always sees higher number of cases than other regions in previous years. Now, we are facing the two diseases at the same time, which will require intensive attention from the health care system to prevent great harm to the population. There is no typically prescribed medicine to offer treatment for dengue fever, except for relief from pain. And it is worth remembering that the number of yearly deaths caused by dengue fever is higher than COVID-19 fatalities, so far this year.
This year, the problem is further complicated because the symptoms (fever, sore throat and body ache) of Covid-19, dengue and malaria, and a few other diseases such as typhoid and common flu overlap. The challenge now would be to deal with the diseases while sticking to the social restrictions needed to combat Covid-19. This will burden the testing infrastructure. Continuing the battle against the crippling COVID-19, and coping with the creeping outbreak of dengue fever, appears to pose a dual challenge to the health authorities. However, we are confident that the COVID-19 strategy, with the participation of the people, will be useful in the war to be waged against two diseases at one time. The vector-borne disease is caused by the daytime bite of the Aedes mosquitoes. Its larvae are born in clean rain water that collects in littered containers, such as green-coconut shells, along with the hundreds of types of pots and cans thrown away after being used. By using the same strategies, such as high public awareness about COVID-19, we can prevent dengue fever by eliminating dengue hot spots. These efforts will be beefed up with the involvement of volunteers nationwide. Citizens must also be careful and take precautions.

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