Friday, November 12, 2010

Aussies close border but send aid to Daru

THE Daru Island cholera outbreak is preventing travel from Papua New Guinea to the Torres Strait under provisions of the Torres Strait Treaty, Radio Australia reported yesterday, The National reports.

It said Australia’s department of foreign affairs had restricted travel under the treaty until further notice because of the outbreak on the island.

Yesterday, PNG health officials confirmed the death toll at 16 and had a chartered plane travelling from Port Moresby, with officers from the Health Department, World Health Organisation and AusAID, to distribute emergency medical aid and assess the situation.

More than 300 people were confirmed to have been affected by the disease and 70 admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Last night, there was unconfirmed report that the death toll might have reached 22.

The Australian newspaper reported yesterday that Australia was rushing medical supplies and aid to Daru.

It said that medicine and intravenous fluid, to treat dehydration associated with the deadly disease, was being stockpiled on the Queensland side of the strait.

Daru is about 4km off the PNG mainland and only 50km from the nearest Australian island of Saibai.

The newspaper quoted medical staff at the 60-bed Daru General Hospital describing horrific scenes, and pleaded for Australian help.

It quoted local Catholic priest Vinod D’Mello saying that sick people lay in the hospital’s corridors because all the beds were taken.

“There are two or three more deaths every day,” he said.

“I can hear the crying from the hospital when I am in the church.

“(The staff) are trying their best, but it is a tragic situation.”

Nurse Dawe Tuti said the hospital’s two doctors and other medical staff were running off their feet.

“We do not have enough manpower,” she told The Australian.

“The Australian government stands ready to provide additional assistance to the PNG government to respond to the outbreak as needed,” an AusAID spokeswoman said. “At this stage, no formal request for assistance has been made.”

Queensland health communicable diseases branch senior director Christine Selvey said: “Even though the cholera outbreak has now spread to Daru, it is exceedingly unlikely that cholera could spread locally within north Queensland.

“Hygiene and food preparation practices in the Torres Strait are good; there is ready access to safe-drinking water and there is safe disposal of human wastes.”

No comments:

Post a Comment