The Tamil Nadu Government has submitted to a central team who have come here to assess the dengue epidemic that so far 40 have died and over 12,000 have been affected by it.
Team leader Asitosh Biswas, who is from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, told reporters that this figure pertained to the period from January till now.
This is an update of an earlier figure released by State Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan last week which put the toll at 35 and the number of persons affected at 10,000.
Most of the victims are children and juveniles.
The team, after extensive consultation with the State Government officials, visited Stanley and Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital following reports that there were not enough beds with more and more patients getting in.
In response to a PIL in the Madras High Court, Dr Radhakrishna said dengue had been brought within the ambit of the Chief Minister’s health insurance scheme. It would cover even patients moved from private hospitals, he has told the court.
The central team is expected to visit other parts of the state in the next few days to assess the situation.
The central team’s visit followed a meeting Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi yesterday. He rushed to Delhi to seek assistance to tackle the epidemic after the entire opposition accused the government of inaction because it was struggling for its own survival.
Reflecting this view, Pattali Makkal Katchi leader and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramdoss called it a “miserable failure on the part of the State as well as Central Governments” to contain the epidemic at the very outset.
He said this was because the Government was in denial when it should have launched a massive awareness campaign among the people to keep the environment clean to check breeding of mosquito. As result, it had spread all over the State.
The Government should have woken up to the threat when the disease spread rapidly in the western districts of Salem, Erode and Dharmapuri. Instead, it came out with “ the stupid statement that dengue would not enter Amma’s State”.
He said that in Salem, the native district of the Chief Minister, “70 per cent of the roads have been dug up for constructing storm water drains”.As a result there was water-logging leading to breeding of mosquitoes.
He said dengue could not be contained unless the people are involved in the awareness campaign which the Government has launched belatedly.