Kolkata: At least six people have died of dengue this monsoon in West Bengal even as the state takes steps to ensure the virus doesn’t turn into an epidemic.

“There has been confirmation of two more deaths; two more deaths since Wednesday, so the toll now is nine,” state Health Services Director Dr. Biswaranjan Satpathi said.

“The new cases of dengue infection sum up to 1,422 people infected by the virus since January,” the doctor said, adding that these cases were mainly reported from Serampore in Hooghly district. There were reports of new cases from North 24-Parganas, Hooghly, Howrah and Nadia districts, and a few isolated cases from north Bengal, he said.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has asked the department to issue an advisory to remove stagnant water from areas such as market places, schools, hospitals, railway stations and bus stands.

All panchayats and urban local bodies have been asked to be vigilant about cases of unidentified fever, malaria, dengue and diarrhoea — all of which are prevalent during the rainy season. Banerjee said she has also asked the school education department to issue an advisory to schools to maintain cleanliness on campus. Officials said 41 urban local bodies in the state are at risk and they have been asked to increase cleanliness activities, including removal of stagnant water.

The worst-affected area is Serampore in Hooghly district where 500 new cases were reported and the local municipality seems to be fighting a losing battle. Even parliamentarian Kalyan Banerjee had a hard time trying to supervise the cleanliness of the locality and was seen shouting at councillors.

“I have instructed the municipality to take on the cleanliness drive more seriously,” he said.

Kolkata Municipal Corporation is also finding it difficult to keep the city clean. “Our officials are working round the clock, but people also have to be conscious of their surroundings,” said city Mayor Sovan Chatterjee.

Every year during monsoons the disease spreads like wildfire affecting many and often leading to several deaths. However, city dwellers are unable to sustain basic cleanliness standards, which leads to diseases. “People are just not conscious of their surroundings and their well being,” said Dr. Somnath Majhi.