New Delhi, India - Hospitals in Delhi are struggling with an overload of dengue fever patients, as the capital tries to cope with the worst outbreak of the disease in five years, a doctor has told Al Jazeera.

Mohammad Yahya, a resident doctor at the Hindu Rao Hospital, said on Tuesday that staff had reserved half of the wards for dengue patients, as hospitals continued to be inundated with patients from across the city.
 
"In some wards we have two-to-four dengue patients on a single bed," he said.

Yahya's comments came as the Delhi health ministry ordered all government hospitals to open "fever clinics" at their premises in a bid to detect the disease at the primary level.

The ministry said that patients should only admit themselves to hospital after consulting a doctor and not out of panic, the Indian Express reported.

Charan Singh, spokesperson for the Delhi government, told Al Jazeera that by Tuesday, 1,872 cases of dengue fever had been registered and confirmed that five people had died from the disease.

Singh reiterated the state government's commitment to increase the number of hospital beds, adding that there was "no need for panic".

'Full of patients'  

Dengue is caused by the bite of female mosquitoes and causes fever, headache and joint and muscular pains, among other symptoms. It is also referred to as "breakbone fever" because of the severe pain it can inflict.

Family members of patients were crowding the streets outside Madan Mohan Hospital in South Delhi on Tuesday.

"I work in this taxi stand for many years but this year I can see the hospital is full with patients," Rakesh, 37, an auto-rickshaw taxi driver outside Madan Mohan Hospital in South Delhi, said.

"Twenty-four hours a day I see patients coming and mostly they are dengue patients. It is scary to see so many dengue patients," Rakesh told Al Jazeera.
Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of the state, has instructed politicians to visit hospitals in their constituencies at least once a day to ensure that all necessary arrangements were in place, including dengue testing kits.
"If someone is not getting an admission then the politicians should ensure that the patient gets admitted and ensure that the surroundings are clean," Kejriwal said.

Last week a couple committed suicide after their only child died of dengue fever after two hospitals refused to treat the eight-year-old over a shortage of beds.

Though eventually the boy was admitted to a third hospital, the long delay in getting treatment worsened his condition.

Dengue is common in India and cases generally peak in October, a peak time for mosquitoes to breed after the end of the monsoon rains.

Yahya said that dengue fever has been on the rise since Delhi held the Commonwealth games in 2010 that involved a number of large construction projects.

"Poor drainage in Delhi is also responsible for it," Yahya said.

There is no vaccine for dengue, which kills an estimated 20,000 people each year and infects up to 100 million, according to the World Health Organization.

In 2013, there were 440 deaths from malaria and 193 from dengue, according to government statistics.

Follow Showkat Shafi on Twitter: @ShowkatShafi 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies