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Pakistan battling outbreak of dengue fever as health officials confirmed more than 10,000 cases and 20 deaths

Pakistani patients suffering from dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, are treated in an isolation ward. Picture by B.K. Bangash/AP
Munir Ahmed

PAKISTAN is battling an outbreak of dengue fever as health officials confirmed more than 10,000 cases and 20 deaths in recent months.

More patients with symptoms of dengue fever were arriving at hospitals in all major cities, including the capital Islamabad, putting a strain on the country's poor health system.

Health officials hope that anti-mosquito spraying in urban areas targeting stagnant water will help contain the disease.

According to Zafar Mirza, a government adviser on health, as many as 10,013 dengue cases had so far been reported. Free medical treatment will be provided to patients suffering from the illness, he said.

He added that the number of dengue patients is still low compared with previous years.

Officials are keeping dengue patients in isolated wards in hospitals across the country.

Pakistan's opposition criticised the government for not taking adequate measures to prevent the outbreak. "The cases of dengue fever are increasing because of government's incompetence," said Maryam Aurangzeb, spokeswoman for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League party.

Rafique Ahmed, a medical doctor at a government hospital in the city of Rawalpindi, said more than 150 patients suffering from dengue fever were being treated at the hospital, but "hopefully we will overcome this epidemic".

He said people with symptoms of a simple fever also rush to hospitals in a panic, fearing they have dengue fever.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection found in tropical countries worldwide. It kills dozens of people every year in Pakistan.

It can cause joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash, and can cause breathing problems, haemorrhaging and organ failure in severe cases.

So far 2,363 cases have been reported in Punjab province, 2,258 in Sindh province, 1,814 in the country's north west and 1,772 in Baluchistan province.

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