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Guatemala declares emergency over dengue outbreak

The government of Guatemala declared a national emergency on Thursday due to a dengue outbreak that has left 22 dead and more than 12,000 cases so far this year, Health Minister Francisco Coma reported.

“We have made the decision to declare a national health emergency due to the dengue situation,” the official said at a press conference.

Coma explained that the measure will be in effect for three months and entails the implementation of fumigations to eradicate the mosquito that transmits dengue. It also provides for increased care in hospitals, among other actions involving various public and private institutions.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, between January and August there have been 22 deaths from dengue in the country. In addition, 12,263 cases, 152% more than the same period last year.

“We must be working in a coordinated manner because we have to address not only promotion and prevention, but also manage the crisis caused by this epidemic,” Coma added.

Deputy Secretary of Civil Protection Walter Monroy said that with the approaching second stage of the rainy season (September and October), mosquito “breeding grounds” may increase as water stagnates.

“The importance of this intervention and inter-institutional coordination is to prevent current cases from increasing,” Monroy said.

The highest historical peak of dengue in Guatemala was registered in 2019 when there were more than 50,000 cases, according to official statistics.

Dengue is an endemic disease of tropical areas that causes high fevers, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and in the most severe cases, hemorrhages that can be fatal.

The World Health Organization warned in April that dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases are spreading much further and faster due to climate change.

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