Hospitals flood with patients as dengue fever outbreak strikes Asia

Hospitals flood with patients as dengue fever outbreak strikes Asia

The Philippines' Department of Health on Tuesday declared the country's outbreak of dengue to be a national epidemic.

The agency said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the declaration to improve the response to the outbreak by allowing local governments to draw on a special Quick Response Fund.

It said the Philippines recorded 146,062 cases of dengue from January through July 20 this year, 98% more than the same period in 2018. It said the outbreak caused 622 deaths.

The Department of Health said that starting Tuesday, it was conducting a campaign to focus on finding and destroying mosquito breeding sites, which is a primary means of containing dengue. Other government agencies, local government units, schools, offices and communities will join in the effort, it said.

Other Southeast Asian countries have also reported an upsurge in dengue cases this year, according to the U.N.'s World Health Organization. The organization said Malaysia had registered 62,421 cases through June 29, including 93 deaths, compared to 32,425 cases with 53 deaths for the same period last year. Vietnam over the same period had 81,132 cases with four deaths reported, compared to 26,201 cases including six deaths in 2018.

In South Asia, Bangladesh has been facing its worst-ever dengue fever outbreak, putting a severe strain on the country's already overwhelmed medical system.

A man receives treatment for dengue, with his son standing beside him, at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

Dengue patients and relatives stay at the dengue room inside the San Lazaro government hospital in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Dengue patients lie inside a room at the San Lazaro government hospital in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Patients receive treatment for dengue at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

A young dengue patient plays with his action hero figurines inside his room at the San Lazaro government hospital in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

A young dengue patient plays with a smartphone as she stays inside the San Lazaro government hospital in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

A young dengue patient rests inside a room at the San Lazaro government hospital in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

A medical officer walks past patients receiving treatment for dengue at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

A child receiving treatment for dengue walks at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

Patients receive treatment for dengue at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

A child receives treatment for dengue at Dhaka Shishu Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Mahmud Hossain Opu)

A young dengue patient walks inside the San Lazaro government hospital in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)