More than a dozen people have died of cholera in central Haiti, adding to concerns that the outbreak is edging closer to the densely populated capital, officials said on Saturday.
The sudden cholera epidemic has in recent days killed 220 people, mainly in northern Haiti, and sent officials scrambling to contain a wider outbreak, 10 months after a January earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation.
Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in impoverished tent cities, particularly around Port-au-Prince, where sanitation is poor and relief groups say the diarrhea-causing illness could spread rapidly.
Regional health director Dieula Louissaint said 12 more people died in the Artibonite Department in northern Haiti on Saturday, boosting that area’s toll to 206, while 14 people died in central Haiti closer to the capital.
“We cannot continue to treat cholera in this structure where we are also seeing other kinds of patients,” Louissaint said. “We need to establish specific treatment centers.”
About 3,000 people have been admitted to hospitals and health centers near the northern city of Saint-Marc, which is struggling to cope with the overwhelming rush of sick patients as the nation grapples with its first cholera outbreak in over a century.
More than 50 inmates at a prison in the center of the country have been infected with cholera and three have died, officials said.
“The situation is under control. The population should not give in to panic, but people must take hygienic measures seriously,” warned Jocelyne Pierre-Louis, a physician with the Haitian public health ministry.
Haitian President Rene Preval and Minister of Public Health Alex Larsen toured regions affected by the epidemic on Saturday, as authorities vowed they were working to provide clean water to residents.
On Friday, the health ministry asked the UN operation in Haiti to take charge of distributing medication that is being sent by international donors.
The Canadian government has offered to set up a military hospital in Haiti and the US has pledged to set up large tents to treat patients on the ground.
Canada, which has its own sizeable Haitian population, also offered to send C$1 million (US$975,000) to help fight the spread of the outbreak.
“Canada is worried about the risk that this serious disease spreads to other communities,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.
The US branch of the Red Cross said on Saturday that three large shipments of supplies had arrived in the Americas’ poorest country.
Doctors Without Borders has plans to set up a field hospital in Saint-Marc in order to treat cholera patients and Oxfam said it sent five emergency specialists to Artibonite to “set up water, sanitation and hygiene programs for an estimated 100,000 people.”
Contamination of the Artibonite River, an artery crossing Haiti’s rural center that thousands of people use for much of their daily activities from washing to cooking, was believed to be the epidemic’s source.
However, the rapid spread of the disease, which is caused by a bacterial infection in the small intestine, raised fears of a much larger health emergency, particularly if it reaches the camps around Port-au-Prince.
“It is a scenario of catastrophe,” Mirlande Manigat, the frontrunner in Haiti’s presidential elections, told broadcaster Radio-Canada during a visit to Montreal.
Aid agencies have 300,000 doses of antibiotics in the country already, Catherine Bragg, the UN deputy emergency coordinator said in New York on Friday.
About 10,000 boxes of water purification tablets, 2,500 jerry cans and the same number of buckets and hygiene kits are being distributed in the affected area.
SAFETY RISK: The government is working to categorize countries based on their COVID-19 cases and prevention efforts, which would determine quarantine periods The government plans to rank countries based on their COVID-19 risks to determine how to treat tourists and other travelers from those nations once Taiwan reopens its borders, but it is still working out the categories, a top health official told lawmakers yesterday. “We would divide countries around the world into several categories. One category would comprise those countries with very few confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as New Zealand and Palau. Travelers from the countries in this category would only need to practice self-health management,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) told a Legislative Yuan seminar hosted by
‘NEW LIFE HAS COME’: A total of 939,090 people voted to remove Han Kuo-yu from office, more than the 892,545 votes he won to become mayor in 2018 Kaohsiung residents in a recall vote yesterday overwhelmingly voted to remove Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) from office. The result made Han the nation’s first special municipality head to be recalled, just a year-and-a-half after he won a surprise victory over a candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which had run the city for two decades. The vote was 939,090 in favor of recall and 25,051 against, with a 42.14 percent voter turnout, Kaohsiung City Election Commission data showed. There are 2,299,981 eligible voters in the city, the data showed. At least 25 percent of
People using Taipei’s MRT metropolitan railway network and public bus system would no longer be required to wear masks at all times when in stations, metro cars or buses from tomorrow, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊) announced yesterday. The mask requirement on public transport in Taipei is being eased on the same day the central government plans to relax disease prevention measures on trains and domestic flights, as there have been no domestic COVID-19 infections in nearly two months, she said. “As long as social distancing can be maintained,” passengers riding the MRT and public buses in the city can remove
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center