Agartala: With the death of three more children, the toll in the outbreak of malaria in Tripura has risen to 28, a minister said here Wednesday.
The dead include 23 children.
Over 1,700 people have fallen ill from malaria and fever in the tribal-dominated mountainous areas of Dhalai, Gomti and South Tripura districts.
"Twenty-eight people, mostly children, have died and more than 1,700 others have fallen ill in the past three weeks in the three districts. All the affected have been admitted to various government hospitals," Tripura Health and Family Welfare Minister Badal Choudhury told reporters.
The unofficial tally stands at more than 35 dead and over 2,000 for those who have fallen ill.
Choudhury said: "Next week, union health and family welfare ministry will send a four-member expert team, led by regional director (malaria), Satyajit Sen, to study the outbreak of malaria in Tripura."
The minister along with medical experts and doctors visited the malaria-affected areas several times and personally supervised medical measures.
He said: "Several medical teams have been working in the tribal-inhabited Gandachera and Longtharai Valley sub-divisions and other disease-affected areas."
"Leaves of all doctors, nurses and health workers have been cancelled. Health officials and field workers are visiting remote villages and making arrangements to bring the malaria-affected people to the government hospitals," he said.
A helicopter is on standby to ferry doctors, health staff and patients in an emergency.
Five temporary medical camps are functioning in the affected areas.
A senior health department official said at least 50 health workers, including 26 ASHA (Accredited social health activists), 13 ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) and three MPW (Multi-Purpose Workers), have been either suspended or will face punitive action for negligence in work.
Experts have advised the government to use second-generation medicines instead of traditional ones to prevent malaria deaths.
The health department has already stocked sufficient medicines in each sub-division and health centres to ensure speedy and effective treatment.
All the 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 of the vector.