MORE than 70,000 people presented themselves at hospitals and health centres across the Western Division over the past two weeks.
Of this, more than 5600 were being viewed as suspected dengue fever cases and about 900 diagnosed as confirmed cases of the mosquito-spread virus.
The staggering figures prompted Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki to call a press conference yesterday where he called on the public to take seriously the threat it posed on lives.
"The threat of dengue is real," he said.
While the number of deaths caused by dengue in the division are yet to be confirmed, Commander Cawaki said the increasing number of people showing up at hospitals with dengue-like symptoms was ominous.
"The statistics that we have received from February 28 to March 13 of people visiting hospitals in relation to dengue are very alarming," he said.
Commander Cawaki said his office was monitoring the outbreak in the Central Division since it was declared in December last year.
He said his team began monitoring the situation in the West and he activated a divisional taskforce after a huge increase in dengue cases were recorded in mid-February in Nadi and Lautoka, followed by Ba and Sigatoka.
Commander Cawaki said while the government and some business organisations were spearheading cleanup campaigns, it was imperative that every person made an effort to assist in removing mosquito breeding areas.
Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said this week that more than 10,000 people in the country had been infected.