GOROKA, which hosts its annual show and bilum festival this weekend, is on high alert amidst fears that the cholera outbreak could spread there.
One Eastern Highlander who visited Morobe province recently is suspected to have contracted cholera, and authorities are worried about the influx of people for the show and the bilum festival this weekend.
As a precautionary health measure, authorities have banned the sale of cooked food in schools and open markets,and are considering doing the same at the Goroka showground.
Provincial disease controller Jackson Appo and director medical services and physician at the Goroka Base Hospital, Dr Kapiro Kendaura, confirmed yesterday that a patient in Watabung, Daulo district, was developing symptoms of cholera.
They visited the patient who returned to Watabung from Lae a few days ago.
Health workers at Watabung Health Centre raised the alarm when he arrived with his complaint.
The medical team comprising Mr Appo, Dr Kendaura and a laboratory technician who visited the patient carefully assessed his condition and confirmed symptoms of cholera. They broke the news in a meeting between provincial authorities and senior managers of the provincial health division and stakeholders.
“This is a suspected case of cholera. It is yet to be confirmed after stool specimen tests,” Dr Kendaura said.
Mr Appo said health workers at Watabung Health Centre would bring the man’s stool samples to Goroka today to be sent to Port Moresby laboratory for tests.
Deputy provincial health director responsible for district health services, Ken Wai, urged every stakeholder to play their part in assisting them to combat the spread of cholera, influenza and dysentery from spilling into the province, since they share a common border with disease-stricken areas of Morobe.
Another physician at the Goroka Base Hospital, Dr Kilagi Vanuga, made a Power Point presentation on the history and background of cholera, its effects and how it is contracted, preventive measures and treatment.
CARE International, the provincial health division and Goroka Base Hospital dispatched two teams to Simbari and Amdakombi in Obura-Wonenara district that shares a common border with Menyamya district of Morobe after deaths were reported there.
The team was reportedly told by health workers in Wonenara and Simbari that the three infant deaths in the area were caused by the June-July seasonal flu and not by influenza or dysentery.
The Goroka town authority has been urged to increase chlorine treatment of the town’s water supply and treat exposed raw sewerage in different sections of the town, as part of measures to prevent a cholera outbreak.
Stakeholders raised concerns over the looming influx of people for the Goroka show this weekend.
They said vendors of cooked food at the show stalls were likely to create a conducive atmosphere for the spread of diseases, and were considering banning it.
Goroka district representatives confirmed sending notices to cease all cooked food sales at open markets in town and in schools.