While the COVID-19 pandemic has captured our attention for most of this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is warning Malaysians not to forget an endemic that is expected to worsen in the coming months — dengue
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba announced that Malaysia recorded 50,511 cases and 88 fatalities caused by dengue in the first half of the year, from 1 January to 13 June.
"The cumulative dengue fever cases for the period this year is less than in 2019," said Dr Adham in a statement in conjunction with the 10th ASEAN Dengue Day yesterday, 15 June.
"However, since eight weeks ago, there has been a rising trend of an average 8% increase every week," he said.
New Straits Times reported there were 56,819 cases and also 88 deaths caused by the dengue virus during the same period last year.
Based on the trend from previous years, the MOH is expecting a second wave of dengue cases in early June until September 2020
According to Malay Mail, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also warned of the dengue uptrend in one of his COVID-19 briefings last week.
He said the risk of dengue will increase when the country opens more business sectors under the Recovery Movement Control Order, as plenty of the premises have not been in use for months.
Dr Noor Hisham urged the public and business owners to clean up places favoured by the Aedes mosquito - the carrier of the dengue virus - as its breeding ground.
"In this regard, the public are urged to improve the level of cleanliness in their respective areas, especially places where water stagnates such as pools and toilets that are all potential places for the Aedes mosquito to breed," he said.
Dr Noor Hisham added that the MOH recommends the public to clean their households, both indoor and outdoor, on a weekly basis
The ministry also recommended spraying insecticide in places that have been unused since the start of the MCO and using mosquito repellant on ourselves.
"The fight against the Aedes mosquito and dengue fever is our responsibility, just as the community has worked together to stem the spread of the COVID-19 infection," Dr Noor Hisham said.
"If you have dengue fever symptoms, seek treatment at the nearest health facility immediately. The enforcement of the RMCO should not be a hindrance to early treatment."
According to the MOH, symptoms of dengue fever include a suddenly high fever, rash, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, and muscle and joint pain.
Meanwhile, Dr Adham said the ministry will also help in combating dengue by sending out Communication for Behavioral Impact (COMBI) programme volunteers across Malaysia
"[They] will be assisting the ministry in carrying out educational activities on dengue prevention through the new norm approach," announced the minister.
As of 12 June, there were 2,954 COMBI teams involving 25,231 volunteers nationwide.
He added that the theme for ASEAN Dengue Day this year was '10 Minutes to Destroy Aedes' to spur the cooperation of all parties to curb dengue fever together.
The message is that all it takes is community commitment of at least 10 minutes per week to clean their environment and destroy Aedes mosquito breeding grounds to tackle dengue.