A sharp spike in dengue cases is straining Bangladesh’s fragile healthcare system, which is already battered by a worsening coronavirus crisis in the country.
Just this month, 1,920 people were diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease till Friday, marking a more than 600 percent jump in cases from June when 272 cases were reported.
According to the Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS), a total of 2,292 patients have been diagnosed with dengue this year, including at least three deaths.
Almost all the dengue cases, barring about 70, have been found in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s sprawling capital, home to about 17 million people.
The dengue outbreak has put further pressure on Bangladesh’s healthcare, which is already on the brink of a collapse due to a vicious third wave of the coronavirus.
On Thursday evening, 239 COVID-19 related deaths were reported across the country in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 20,255.
During the same period, 15,271 new coronavirus cases were reported, taking the total caseload to 1,226,253, according to the DGHS.
Bangladesh witnessed its worst-ever dengue outbreak in 2019 when it recorded more than 100,000 cases and 179 deaths.
There was a lull last year when 1,405 patients were diagnosed across the country, with seven killed according to the DGHS data.
This year, however, the situation is complicated by the fact that COVID-19 and dengue present similar symptoms, making their illnesses more difficult to diagnose.
And most hospital beds and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) have been taken up by coronavirus patients, making it difficult for patients with a severe case of dengue to get admitted to a facility.
Last week, when Afsarul Haque first found his fever had reached 102F, he thought he was infected with the novel coronavirus.
The 38-year-old banker immediately called a private lab to get his COVID-19 test done. A day later, the result came out as negative.
His fever, however, kept getting worse as did his headache.
“The thought of catching dengue didn’t flash in my mind at all,” Haque told Al Jazeera.
“But one of my relatives asked me to get a dengue test. I did and the test result was positive.”
Haque has been staying home as per his doctor’s suggestion and has been taking medicines