Agartala: At least 20 people have died and over 400 fallen ill due to the outbreak of malaria in northern Tripura, a minister said here Friday.
"Twenty people died and more than 400 people have become ill in the past one week in Gandachera and Longtharai Valley sub-divisions (under Dhalai district). All the sick people have been admitted to government hospitals," Tripura's Health Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters.
The unofficial figure of deaths due to malaria stands at more than 30 and of those taken ill at over 600.
Majority of the affected include children and youth.
Choudhury, who rushed to the malaria affected areas Friday along with the experts, said: "Four medical teams have been sent to the tribal dominated Gandachera and Longtharai Valley areas".
Chief Minister Manik Sarkar held a high-level meeting here Thursday and reviewed the situation.
"To deal with the situation effectively, leaves of all doctors, nurses and health workers have been cancelled. Health officials are visiting remote villages and making arrangements to bring the malaria affected people to the government hospitals," the minister said.
"We are contemplating to take punitive actions against the health workers for negligence of their duties and outbreak of the disease in a short span," he added.
A helicopter was made ready to ferry the doctors, health staffs and patients in emergency.
Five temporary medical camps are functioning in the affected areas to treat those down with malaria and take preventive measures.
The government has been advised by the experts to use second-generation medicine instead of traditional medicines to prevent malaria deaths. The health department has already stocked sufficient medicines in each sub-division and health centre to ensure speedy and effective treatment.
All eight northeastern states, besides West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka, are highly malaria prone, where several hundred people die every year.