Haryana: 7 kids die in 3 weeks; doctors in tizzy
At least seven children, all aged below 14, have died in Haryana's Chilli village in Palwal district in the past three weeks. Furious state health officials are camping in a panchayat house to investigate the cause of the deaths, which remains unclear. This comes amid reports of similar suspicious deaths of children in West Bengal's Siliguri district. Here are more details.
While the villagers reportedly claimed the deaths were the result of a dengue outbreak, authorities maintain their probe is yet to establish a link. Notably, a state government team comprising an epidemiologist, a science officer, and health inspectors, is "studying the pattern" in the village. Authorities reportedly said there is a possibility that children had died from multiple illnesses due to lack of sanitation.
Palwal Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brahmdeep Sandhu told The Indian Express that while they are not ruling out dengue, they have not received any positive dengue report yet. Talking about the deaths, Dr. Sandhu said, "Two were from suspected pneumonia...one was a case of severe anemia, one was due to fever from gastroenteritis, one an acute fever...another was due to fever with shock."
Meanwhile, a month-old child died on Tuesday without any illness, Dr. Sandhu said. The child's father told TIE, "I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the washroom and noticed...she was lying motionless. She did not have a fever."
TIE reported that public health officials are conducting tests for malaria, dengue, COVID-19, and other vector-borne diseases, among the 2,947 people in 275 households in the village. Authorities said 25 teams were working to survey, diagnose and investigate the cause of deaths. While authorities said they counted seven deaths in three weeks, the villagers and the sarpanch said the toll was at least nine.
Speaking to TIE, family members of five children who died within days of contracting high fever reported similar symptoms. The symptoms included high fever, rashes, vomiting, and low platelet count. They said the children died within three-four days of contracting the fever.
Separately, in West Bengal, several children were reportedly admitted to Siliguri District Hospital with fever and respiratory problems on Tuesday. However, the cause of the fever is still unclear and authorities are trying to determine the reason. Uttar Pradesh, too, has been grappling with a deadly dengue outbreak for the past three weeks in which most of the victims are children.
Reports of fever and death among children are a cause of concern as many experts have warned that the third wave of COVID-19 would pose more risk for children. Many experts believe the lack of vaccinations among children will leave them unprotected against the virus. However, it is still unclear if these cases of hospitalization and deaths are related to COVID-19.