WHO says no need for travel restriction to Sri Lanka over dengue outbreak

Friday, 21 July 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The World Health Organization says that there is no need to impose restrictions on travel to Sri Lanka on the grounds of a dengue outbreak.

The World Health Organization said it does not recommend that any general travel or trade restrictions be applied on Sri Lanka based on the information available for this event.

According to the WHO, the current dengue fever outbreak occurs in a context of massive heavy rains and flooding and is currently affecting 15 out of 25 districts in Sri Lanka where almost 600,000 people have been affected.

Heavy monsoon rains, public failure to clear rain-soaked garbage, standing water pools and other potential breeding grounds for mosquito larvae are attributed to the higher number of cases reported in urban and suburban areas.

The World Health Organization said it is supporting the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health (MOH) to ensure an efficient and comprehensive health response. The Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) has constituted a taskforce to guide the response.

WHO/SEARO recently deployed an epidemiologist, entomologist and two dengue management experts from the WHO Collaborating Center for Case Management of Dengue/Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, Thailand) and Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) Thailand to Sri Lanka. The triage protocol was updated in June 2017 to assist with better management of the patients at the health facilities.

The WHO Sri Lanka country office has purchased 50 fogging machines to support vector control activities.

The Ministry of Health has requested support from military forces to increase the number of beds as healthcare facilities are overwhelmed. Three temporary wards in a hospital 38 km north of Colombo have now been completed.

The MOH and WHO have worked together to prepare a strategic and operational plan for intensive measures to control the dengue outbreak in the next few weeks.

The WHO recommends simultaneously implementing both prevention and control methods for effective control. Prevention and control relies on reducing the breeding of mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing human vector contact through adult control measures.

The WHO says prevention and control can be achieved by reducing the number of artificial water containers that hold water (cement tanks for water storage, drums, used tires, empty bottles, coconut shells, etc.) in and around a home and by using barriers such as insect screens, closed doors and windows, long clothing and the use of insect repellents, household insecticide aerosol products, mosquito coils, etc. and space spraying with insecticide can be deployed as an emergency measure.

As protection from the dengue mosquitoes it is recommended to sleep (particularly young children, the sick or elderly) under mosquito nets, treated with or without insecticide.