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MPs enlisted for war on dengue
By Faraza Farook
All MPs have been directed personally to take charge of anti dengue campaigns in their areas as the government launched a counter attack against the worst dengue epidemic, Health Minister P.Dayaratne said.

Orders have gone out for public health officers to launch surprise checks on schools and other institutions and to take tough action against those who are not co-operating in the clean up process.

Mr. Dayaratne said the number of dengue cases had almost doubled this year with as many as 25 deaths being reported and the number of victims going up to 3000. School children have been the main victims of dengue. At the Kurunegala General Hospital, 54 suspected dengue patients were less than 10-years-old while only two cases were above 10 , Acting Director Dr. Kamal Jayasinghe said.

Residents of Kurunegala complain that though their district was also badly affected, Colombo appeared to be the centre of anti dengue operations while Kurunegala got little attention.

Making a shocking disclosure about Colombo the Chief Medical officer Dr.Pradeep Kariyawasam said that of the 14 schools inspected only one had kept the premises relatively clean and free of dengue mosquito breeding spots.

Some 200,000 children are studying in 140 schools in the city with many schools said to have mosquito breeding places. Dr. Kariyawasam said that despite instructions to one of the leading girls' schools to clear the Bromilia plants in which mosquito larvae were found during inspection last year, it has not been carried out to date. This plant could collect water in its leaves and mosquitoes could breed there. Surprise checks are being carried out on Colombo schools, public institutions and residences by the Municipal authorities.

A Flying Squad was formed last week under the Dengue Task Force comprising officials from the Epidemiology Unit, the Public Health Department, the MRI and the Education Ministry to conduct inspections.

Royal College was closed down last week to clean up its premises following a report submitted by the Flying Squad to the Health Minister. The Sunday Times learns that mosquito larvae was also found in the Principal's residence. Other schools that were subject for inspection included Buddhist Ladies College, Ananda College and Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya.

A spokesperson for the Buddhist Ladies college said they had a report from the MRI and CMC authorities that their premises were clean. "However the vicinity of the school may be a breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes," the spokesman said.
Large scale spraying as for Malaria cannot be carried out for dengue due to the different breeding patterns.

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