CHOLERA has spread to the East Sepik province, killing five people and infecting at least 90, health authorities in the province said yesterday.
The East Sepik provincial administration and health authorities confirmed the outbreak in Angoram district.
In a statement released at 4.30pm yesterday, provincial administrator Samson Torovi said more than 90 people had been confirmed with cholera with five people having died from it.
The update superseded the figures released by Wewak General Hospital chief executive officer Dr Louis Samiak in the morning, which stood at 70 confirmed cases and three deaths.
The worst affected areas are Kambaramba village, the Biwat area, Angoram town and the Gavien Resettlement area.
Mr Torovi said people from these areas were frequent travellers to Madang province via the Sepik River and they may have contracted the disease there.
A cholera outbreak was declared in Madang four weeks ago, and the number of people suspected to be infected there has risen to 400, with 10 confirmed cases.
Dr Samiak said samples of all reported cases were flown to Port Moresby yesterday for laboratory test by a surveillance officer and the results were expected to be made known today.
The hospital boss said officers dispatched to Angoram this week were using the rapid diagnostic testing kits to check the status of those with symptoms of the illness, however, further tests on these samples would only be done in Port Moresby.
Dr Samiak said the medical team in Angoram was treating the infected people at Kambaramba and would travel up to Biwat and other areas where there were reports of more people with complaints of the disease.
In the meantime, a care centre has been set up at Kambaramba aid post with 15 beds and a medical team from Wewak is attending to the affected villagers.
Health authorities believed it was spread by a family that arrived at Kambaramba village from Madang last week, with a child having symptoms of the dreaded disease.
Dr Samiak has appealed to all stakeholders in the province to help the hospital come up with drastic measures to equip the Angoram Health Centre where the bulk of the affected people would be treated.
He said the hospital had exhausted all its limited funds on creating a separate ward in Wewak and all stakeholders should financially support the hospital’s move to adequately support Angoram Health Centre so that it could cater for all patients there.
Dr Samiak said it was better to keep the affected people at Angoram and treat them there because it would reduce the risk of town residents contracting the virus.
The hospital chief also urged the people to be mindful of their personal hygiene and observe the ban on the sale of cooked food, water, ice blocks and cordial in street markets and retail outlets.
The provincial administration has also set up a task force to deal with the issue of treating and preventing the spread of the disease.
Cholera was first reported in Morobe province in August, where an outbreak was declared.
Some deaths in Eastern Highlands and Gulf provinces were linked to the disease, but not confirmed.
It spread to Madang, where an outbreak was declared last month, and now to East Sepik.