Cholera scare forces schools to close

National, Normal


SEVERAL schools in Bogia in the Madang province have been closed over fears of a possible cholera outbreak in the area.
The Bogia Holy Spirit High School, Bogia Catholic and Bogia Admin primary schools have been suspended for two weeks and will resume on Feb 14.
This action is a precautionary measure by the school boards and the district authorities as the number of cholera and other water dysentery cases is spreading throughout the district.
The first case of cholera was reported at Kaiam village at the mouth of the Ramu River and is believed to have been spread through the movement of people from the nearby villagers in the Angoram district of East Sepik province.
So far, there have been two deaths at the village since the outbreak early this year while more cases are being treated at the Bogia health centre.
Peter Sirew, a teacher at Bogia Holy Spirit High School, told The National that the school board decided to suspend classes for the 350 plus students for two weeks to give time for more awareness.
Officer in charge of the health centre, Karoi Kamak, said the hospital had recorded 52 cases of diarrhoaea since the outbreak at Kaiam village.
He said many of the students attending the high school come from the affected area, and therefore, the board decided to suspend classes as a precautionary measure to stop the possible threat of further spread to other areas.
Mr Kamak said although it was not a major threat, the board decided that the people, including the students from the area, needed some time to be educated.
He said the district cholera treatment unit (CTU) at the health centre was now completed and has been admitting patients.
However, he said the centre needed water supply into the CTU while it also lacked a generator to light up the centre during the night.
Provincial coordinator, Br Sibauk Bieb, said the closure of the school did not mean that there was a widespread cholera outbreak, but they decided to prepare to address the issue in case of a possible outbreak.
However, he confirmed that there were cases through out the district and the province.
Br Sibauk said so far four people have died in Madang, including two deaths from the Bogia area and another recent death of a man from Krangket Island near Madang town.