By JEFFREY ELAPA
THIRTEEN people are dead and another 64 people have been admitted to the Daru General Hospital following a suspected cholera outbreak on the island, The National reports.
Hospital acting chief executive officer Dr Amos Lano said last night that a total of 260 people had been treated in the past three weeks.
He said those who died, both at the hospital and at their homes, were children who had suffered from acute watery diarrhoea, abdominal pain and vomiting – all symptoms of cholera.
Lano said some patients claimed they started feeling sick after drinking well water which was being checked to determine whether it was contaminated.
He said that stool specimens had been sent for testing at the public central laboratory in
. Port Moresby
Lano said while waiting for the results, they were treating all patients as cholera victims since the outbreak was first reported on the island on Oct 5.
He said all the reported cases were from the settlements on the island and more were being admitted, forcing the hospital to erect tents on the hospital ground to isolate suspected cases and to care and treat them.
Lano, however, said that the island was over-populated with more than 20,000 people, including the public servants, who depended entirely on water piped from the mainland. A few people and institutions, though, depend on well water and rain water.
He said more people were coming to the hospital following an awareness campaign that early treatment would save them from possible death.
Lano raised fears that the disease was likely to spread along coastal villages from Daru, even to the Torres Strait islands of
Australia, because of the continuous movement of people from the affected areas along the Fly River.
However, he said health authorities were trying to set up a quarantine service on the island so that the people moving to the mainland were quarantined before leaving for the villages.