MADANG, PNG FEARS CHOLERA OUTBREAK

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59 hospitalized with symptoms, no confirmed cases yet

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 28, 2009) - Health authorities in Madang are on full alert after 59 people were admitted to the Modilon Hospital and the former Yagam hospital with symptoms of cholera in the past four days.

Five people were admitted last Saturday at the Modilon Hospital and the number increased to 30 on Sunday.

The hospital confirmed that another 29 people were admitted until yesterday, bringing the number to 59.

Of these, 23 are children while the others are adults.

They are all believed to be from two settlements in town and were brought in with severe diarrhoea.

When cholera was first detected in Morobe province, Madang authorities carried out awareness and other precautionary measures but after a couple of weeks, the people relaxed their guard, and appeared to have paid the price.

Provincial health authorities confirmed that there were no deaths so far, although there were reports that a patient died of diarrhoea in the Humade and Finch compound at Sisiak settlement.

Provincial health director Markus Katchau said that the provincial cholera awareness and monitoring committee carried out effective awareness but that it was negligence that had allowed the disease to affect the people.

Meanwhile, Modilon Hospital’s acting chief executive officer, Sr Christine Gawi, maintained that the patients had diarrhoea and it was yet to be proven through laboratory testing if it was cholera.

Mr. Katchau urged the general public not to panic but to remain calm and take precautions by maintaining safe health and hygiene habits.

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