As a wave of dengue fever hits the Punjab, experts flew in last night from Sri Lanka and the Church is issuing special advice in Masses.
At least two Christians, one of them a school teacher, are among 18 who have died in two months from dengue fever in the most affected eastern archdiocese where more than 5,000 cases have been reported.
The Punjab government closed all government and Church run schools in Lahore on September 13 for 10 days to fumigate them. A team of Sri Lankan experts arrived last night in the capital to help the recently formed Dengue Emergency Response Committee.
“Close your doors and windows at sunset and sunrise, the peak periods for mosquito bites. Keep water storage tubs clean and eat papaya leaves and panadol tablets in case of fever,” said Vicar General Father Andrew Nisari of Lahore on September 13 as the St Anthony Novena ended at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore.
The virus has also affected activities of St. Francis Church where Father Morris Jalal, the parish priest, run the country’s only “Catholic TV” channel. The Capuchin and his four other crew members are slowly recovering from the virus attack which suspended the ongoing media training for youth Catholics for three weeks.
“We also missed the coverage of the annual pilgrimage last week”, he said.
Catechist Augustine Gill said he had to get expensive private treatment for his 21-year-old daughter since there was no space in government hospitals offering free health care facilities to dengue patients.
“The wards were overcrowded, four patients were lying together in one bed while many were lying on ground”, he said.
Doctor Atif Masood, consultant in charge of the dengue ward at Sir Ganga Ram hospital, said shortage of blood is a major problem. “We have facilities but every patient has to arrange a donor and many are still waiting”, he said.