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Dengue Cases Have Overtaken COVID-19, Here’s What You Should Do

April 23, 2020

There is so much attention surrounding the COVID-19 that Malaysians forget that we are also battling another deadly disease - dengue.

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Many COVID-19 hot spots are also hot spots for dengue, especially in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. As of April 22, according to the government's iDengue portal, 224 new cases of dengue were reported throughout the country. The number of new dengue cases outnumbered those of COVID-19 (with 50 new cases reported).

As of April 24, a total of 38,464 new dengue cases have been reported since December 2019. Data from the Health Ministry shows that the highest percentage of dengue cases stem from Selangor (60%), Johor (8.2%) and Kuala Lumpur (7.6%).

The rise in dengue cases and hotspots throughout Malaysia

Many areas in Selangor, especially in the Hulu Langat, Petaling and Hulu Selangor districts, are considered hot spots for dengue, where the disease has been detected for over 30 days.

Selangor also appears to be a hot spot for COVID-19 cases. Its cumulative total of 1,357 cases (as of April 22) is the highest among the states and Federal Territories. This is followed by Kuala Lumpur, with 1,037 cases.

"Right now while we are busy fighting COVID-19, people are starting to forget how dangerous dengue is," said Rozita Hod, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia public health specialist, adding that like COVID-19 cases, dengue infections were also rising.

Although there were more COVID-19 deaths in Malaysia than dengue fatalities this year, dengue should not be taken lightly as it has directly affected more people than COVID-19, she added.

"The number of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia stood at 5,389 as of Sunday (April 19), but in the case of dengue, over 30,000 cases were reported between Dec 29 and April 7," Dr Rozita pointed out.

Considering that government hospitals and clinics are now busy handling COVID-19 cases, the last thing they would want is an upsurge in dengue cases.

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Keep your home dengue-free

Dengue fever is caused by four different types of viruses transmitted to humans by a bite from the female Aedes mosquito of the aegypti and albopictusspecies.

The current rainy season is especially worrying, as it encourages breeding of Aedes mosquitoes in wet containers. People residing in landed properties should ensure that their compounds are free of Aedes mosquito habitats as each mosquito can lay up to 100 eggs at a time.

“Look out for the plastic mini pool for kids. Even though the water has been drained out (after the children have used it), mosquitoes can still breed there because the plastic structure may remain wet as it is not water absorbent,” said Dr Rozita.

Studies have even found mosquito larvae in upturned plastic caps of mineral water bottles, she said.

“All they need is just a little bit of water. Even the plastic garbage bag we leave outside the house can be a breeding area for the vector,” she added.

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People who live in flats and apartments are not spared either as the mosquitoes can fly into the units through any opening and lay their eggs in vases or uncovered water storage tanks.

“Use this MCO period to get rid of all receptacles around your house where water can collect. Don’t just throw away the water but also clean the walls of the containers with a brush to get rid of any eggs," advised Dr Rozita.

It only takes about 10 minutes to destroy the breeding grounds of the Aedes mosquito. "You can also spray hot water of more 80 degrees Celsius on it to kill the eggs,” she added.

Disclaimer: Figures reported are accurate at the time of writing.

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