In India, diseases of the monsoon will add to the health crisis

En Inde, les maladies de la mousson vont s’ajouter à la crise sanitaire

Already short of hospital beds and of nursing staff because of the virulence of the epidemic, coronaviruses, India fears a worsening of the health crisis, with the annual monsoon and its attendant diseases.

More than a half-million people are infected each year in India from diseases favored by the rains, such as dengue and malaria during the monsoon, which falls on the countries of South Asia from June to September. Infections that have symptoms that are nearly identical to those of the Covid-19: fever, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite…

“We’re going to have to treat all people as if they were sick of the Covid-19”, explains to the AFP Vidya Thakur, of the public hospital, Rajawadi, Mumbai. “All precautions should be taken”.

With over three decades of experience as a physician in a public health system of india under-funded, Vidya Thakur has “the habit of managing the heavy burdens”. But this year the monsoon arrives, while the hospitals are already overwhelmed by the patients of the Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 has left us destitute,” she said, “the monsoon is going to make things even more complicated”.

India has recorded more than 9,500 dead on more than 332 000 confirmed cases. But the human toll continues to rise, and epidemiologists believe that the worst is yet to come in the nation of 1.3 billion people, out of more than two months of a confinement draconian.

For the single city of Delhi, the local government expects more than half a million patients in the Covid-19 at the end of July, that is, a multiplication by almost 20 in less than two months.

In the hospital of 580 beds where works Vidya Thakur in Mumbai, every square inch is already devoted to the management of the pandemic. Beds cluttering up the corridors, storage rooms are being converted into room, and the staff is overloaded.

At the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Bombay, even the medical students have been requisitioned. Many doctors and nurses have had to move away because of the risks posed by their age or their state of health.

Proliferation of mosquitoes

But the providers are not the only ones to fight the exhaustion. The containment has also caused a shortage of maintenance workers in Bombay, who were not able to do their job in the absence of means of transport.

The fumigation carried out from march by the municipality to kill mosquito, the main vector of diseases in monsoon time, thus took a two-month delay. The teams must now work twice as hard.

In a slum area of the metropolis of 18 million inhabitants, of agents equipped with masks and gloves spread of the smoke and evacuate the stagnant waters – of-home reproductive potential of mosquito – roofs, tarps, bottles and storage bottles.

“Many of our men are doing two rotations later, working 14 hours without interruption,” said Rajan Naringrekar, head of the municipal department responsible for the control of insects.

“We’re worried (of contracting the virus), but we need to do our job and take as many precautions as possible,” he says.

Ten years later, Mumtaz Kanojia is still remembered with chills of three weeks where malaria was nailed to the bed. “My daughter and I were seriously sick, we had fever, we couldn’t swallow anything. She even lost consciousness at a time”, tells the AFP that inhabitant of a small house in a slum.

But when the monsoon breaks out on Mumbai, the coronavirus and other diseases are not the sole concern of this wife of 53 years. “The water goes everywhere (…) and the mosquitoes will follow,” she says.

Her neighbors and she are forced to use tarpaulins to protect their roof, even if the puddles that form in their folds can become a swarm of mosquitoes: “without this, the roof leaks when it rains heavily”.

“Every time we have to take care of ourselves. Person the government never comes to help us.”

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