North India heat wave claims 143 lives between March and June; nearly 42,000 heat stroke cases

Uttar Pradesh is the worst affected, followed by Delhi, Bihar and Rajasthan, according to NCDC data. Numbers could be higher upon further scrutiny, say officials.
A woman suffering from a heat-related illness being brought to LNJP Hospital for treatment, as the national capital witnesses hot weather conditions, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
A woman suffering from a heat-related illness being brought to LNJP Hospital for treatment, as the national capital witnesses hot weather conditions, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The unrelenting heat wave sweeping large parts of the country has claimed more lives, with 143 recorded deaths and 41,789 people suffering from suspected cases of heat stroke between March 1 and June 20 this year, Health Ministry sources said on Friday.

According to official data, on June 20 alone, there were 14 confirmed deaths from heat stroke and nine deaths from suspected heat stroke, bringing the death toll for the March-June period to 143, up from 114.

Uttar Pradesh is the worst affected, followed by Delhi, Bihar and Rajasthan, according to data from the National Heat-Related Illness and Death Surveillance by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

In Uttar Pradesh, 35 deaths have been reported. In Delhi, the toll has risen to 21. In Bihar and Rajasthan, at least 17 deaths due to heat stroke have been reported.

Similarly, around 17 fatalities due to suspected heat-related illnesses had been recorded at Delhi's RML and Safdarjung hospitals in the last 24 hours, officials said on Thursday.

Officials said that they are still compiling the data submitted by the states so the numbers could be higher on further scrutiny.

On Wednesday, Union Health Minister JP Nadda held a review meeting and directed states and union territories to submit these data from all health facilities daily and investigate suspected heat-related deaths by medical officers. The direction came in the absence of any official data on cases and deaths due to heat stroke in the country.

The minister also asked the states to disseminate early warnings of heat waves issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) daily after 4 p.m., with forecasts for the next four days, to health facilities and vulnerable populations.

He also said special heat wave units should be started in the central government hospitals to cater to those falling ill due to heat stroke.

Northern and eastern India have been in the grip of an intense heat wave, leading to increasing heat stroke casualties.

Following Nadda’s directions, the union health ministry issued an advisory for the State Health Department on 'Heat Wave Season 2024'.

The advisory said the states should investigate suspected heat-related illness and death by a medical officer/epidemiologist for each case.

A woman suffering from a heat-related illness being brought to LNJP Hospital for treatment, as the national capital witnesses hot weather conditions, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
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A woman suffering from a heat-related illness being brought to LNJP Hospital for treatment, as the national capital witnesses hot weather conditions, in New Delhi, Thursday, June 20, 2024.
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