The government has decided to give sanction to all panchayats to buy fogging machines as the viral fever epidemic continues unabated in the State.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Tuesday to discuss the fever situation. Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, Urban Affairs Minister Manjalamkuzhy Ali, and Minister for Social Welfare M.K. Muneer were present.

District Medical Officers have already been given the direction to purchase fogging machines as necessary and funds have been transferred. The meeting suggested that the machines which are not in use be repaired and readied for use.

Public health labs will henceforth function on Sundays also. Already, clinical laboratories in medical colleges are functioning round-the-clock. Platelet Incubator Agitator machines will be made available at the Thiruvananthapuram General Hospital and the Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam medical colleges this week itself, Mr. Sivakumar said.

Vacancies

It was pointed out at the meeting that there was a scarcity of specialists in the Health Services, with about 441 vacancies. Instead, 1,039 doctors have been appointed through the National Rural Health Mission. The medical colleges and Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta districts have already been provided additional staff for disease-prevention activities. Four tests necessary for fever patients will be given free in KHRWS (Kerala Health Research and Welfare Society) labs, the Health Minister said.

Laboratories in medical colleges, district hospitals, and general hospitals will function round-the-clock while taluk hospital labs will function till 8 p.m.

The Chief Minister issued directions that hospitals engage necessary man power as required and that there should be no shortage of doctors, nurses, and lab technicians.

Principal Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan; State Mission Director, NRHM, M. Beena; Director of Health Services P. K. Jameela; and senior health officials were present on the occasion.

Dengue figures

Meanwhile, 101 confirmed cases of dengue fever were reported in various districts on Tuesday, out of which 53 cases were reported from Thiruvananthapuram and 25 from Kollam. Two suspected dengue deaths and one suspected leptospirosis death were also reported in the State today

The State has so far reported 2,943 cases of dengue this year.