DAISY TANIOVA PAWA
AT least 15 people within Lae city have been confirmed to be suffering from cholera and are being treated in an isolated and quarantined area in front of the Angau Memorial General Hospital.
By yesterday afternoon, four people had been treated and discharged.
Medical officer and team leader for volunteers on site Luke Wakimsep confirmed that patients had been reporting in from areas around Lae.
The volunteers are assisting the Medecins Sans Frontieres, who are in charge of treatment.
Mr Wakimsep said these patients lived within the city area.
He said the patients could have been infected through the use of contaminated water and that they lived near a river.
It is believed most of these patients are living along the banks of the Bumbu River, from West and East Taraka to Omili and Bumbu settlement.
Angau hospital is going through extreme measures to address the cholera outbreak.
Last Friday, field engineers from the Defence Force at Igam Barracks and other volunteers set up tents outside the main building of the hospital to house patients.
Pits were also dug out to deposit waste from the patients in the quarantine area.
The hospital has also given out orders to security personnel to reduce the number of persons visiting the hospital and residents of Lae have been advised to limit their visits to the hospital unless it is necessary.
Health workers have also gone around the city to create awareness.
Due to the nature of the disease, the waste that will be deposited in the pits will also be treated by chemicals that will destroy the bacteria and help contain its spread.
The bacterium, vibrio cholerae, which causes cholera, is passed on from person to person through food and water, which is contaminated by bacteria from the faeces of cholera patients.
Mr Wakimsep said the patients were being treated with oral rehydration salts and intravenous drips.
He also advised Lae residents to boil drinking water, wash hands and try to eat cooked food.
Medecins Sans Frontieres in collaboration with Angau hospital and the National Department of Health have taken up the task of addressing this outbreak.
Efforts to get information from Angau and Morobe provincial health authorities were unsuccessful.