A woman covers her face during a fumigation operation against mosquitoes that spread dengue fever. (Photo: AFP)
The Indonesian government has issued a dengue fever alert with the number of infections this year approaching 70,000 — higher than the number of recorded Covid-19 cases.
Battling two deadly diseases, it also said dengue patients were at much greater risk of death if they were unfortunate enough to contract the coronavirus.
According to the Health Ministry, Indonesia recorded at least 68,753 dengue cases from January to June, with 385 deaths in 34 provinces. Covid-19 had infected 64,958 people as of July 6.
Dengue is transmitted by Aedes aegypti — the yellow fever mosquito — and is considered a deadly disease, which this year is coupled with the deadlier threat from Covid-19.
“Between 100 to 500 dengue cases have been recorded each day since January,” Siti Nadia Tarmizi, director of the ministry’s department of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, told reporters on July 6.
She said society needs to be alert to the possibility of a person being infected with both dengue and Covid-19.
"Vigilance is needed to protect dengue patients by ensuring they are treated separately from Covid-19 patients,” she said.
Dr. Felix Gunawan, director of the Association of Voluntary Health Services of Indonesia, said handling dengue this year was being made more difficult as most resources were being focused on the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This has become a problem for hospitals and medical workers who have to care for both,” he told UCA News.
He also said similar symptoms, such as a high fever, were leading to mistakes in diagnosing both diseases.
There have been patients whose early symptoms matched dengue but after further tests it turned out they were infected with Covid-19, he said.
He warned people to make sure they carry out anti-dengue measures to lessen the risk of infection.
“It is important for individuals and families to take preventive measures recommended by the World Health Organization, such as keeping houses and surrounding areas clean to prevent mosquitoes breeding,” he said.