A car plods through a water-logged road at Bhendi Bazaar
MUMBAI: The pandemic that drove thousands of families out of the city is now posing a challenge in the city’s mosquito control measures as the city’s south and central wards see a rise in malaria cases. Civic officials said that the closed homes, mostly in slums and chawls, have hindered the vector-control measures like spraying of larvicidal oil to clear breeding spots, which could be contributing to an increased malaria incidence. The incessant rain over the past two days could further add to the cases.
Rajan Naringrekar, chief of insecticide department, told TOI that teams carrying out vector control activities are not getting access as many homes are shut. “People have filled their drums, buckets and left homes. It has led to breeding of anopheles and aedes aegypti mosquitoes that cause malaria and dengue. Also, water-logging at empty construction sites too is becoming a problem. There are odd articles usually lying there which have to be emptied frequently when it’s raining. But because of the rain, none of that is happening,” he said.
Among the civic pockets reporting a bulk of cases are G-South, G-North and E wards (Byculla), which also coincidentally saw a big chunk of Covid cases. G-South that covers Worli, Lower Parel, Prabhadevi, has been a malaria hotspot since the construction boom. A civic official said many houses in BDD Chawl could not be accessed. “Khetwadi, NM Joshi Marg, parts of Dharavi are seeing malaria cases,” said Naringrekar.
Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner of G North Ward that covers Dharavi, said that malaria cases are typically seen in Dharavi and Mahim every year during monsoon. “I haven’t been told of any problems to access homes though,” he said. Community health volunteers, however, concurred that houses in slums particularly were shut as people have left for their hometowns. A community health volunteer cited the case of a house in the C ward where the resident had returned after over two months to find massive breeding inside his house.
TOI had earlier reported how malaria cases this July doubled compared to last year. In July 2019, there were 438 cases as opposed to 872 registered this year. A marginal rise was visible in June too when 328 cases were reported as compared to 313 of last June. With the monsoon gaining momentum in July, malaria cases have more than doubled from June. “Guidelines have been circulated to check all fever cases for malaria,” said a civic official. The insecticide department has detected 5,144 breeding sites and destroyed them since May after screening 2.10 lakh suspected spots.
Physician Dr Gautam Bhansali, who consults with Bombay Hospital, said among non-Covid admissions, many have started seeing malaria cases. “Among monsoon ailments, we are mostly seeing malaria. We have treated nearly a dozen cases with Covid-malaria infection. All have recovered,” said Dr Bhansali.