S. Sudan battles cholera after 14 deaths, 272 infections

The government, the U.N. mission and the WHO have scaled up efforts to combat cholera

The government, the U.N. mission and the WHO have scaled up efforts to combat cholera

JUBA – South Sudanese authorities are battling to contain a possible cholera outbreak, with 14 deaths and 272 infections confirmed so far.

"We have had 249 people registered at the hospital [in Juba] with cholera; out of this, seven have died," Health Minister Riek Gai Kok told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

"Some 140 are still at Juba Teaching Hospital recovering, while 102 patients have been treated and discharged," he said.

The minister went on to report an outbreak in Jonglei State, where seven deaths and 23 infections have been registered.

"There is an outbreak in Twic East County in Panyagoor area, where 23 cases have been confirmed and seven have died. We have already sent a team on the ground there," said Kok.

He added that an outbreak was also suspected at an army camp in Kaka in Upper Nile State.

"The cases have been identified in the SPLA camp and we have sent a team of doctors," he said, adding that international NGOs were already investigating the situation on the ground.

"The figures are not yet known," said the minister.

-Measures-

The Health Ministry and other institutions have scaled up efforts to combat cholera in Juba and surrounding areas.

"We have opened two centers: one at Juba Teaching Hospital for admitting cases and one at Gurei for planning," Kok told AA.

He said the teaching hospital only had a capacity to handle some 200 cases.

"If the situation increases, we will begin using the center at Gurei for admitting patients," the minister added.

He went on to cite a host of challenges, including poor sanitation and a lack of hygiene.

"But we are working with the city council to educate people about the cholera," said Kok. "The situation is under control; we are managing the outbreak with the help of [U.N. children's fund] UNICEF."

"International NGOs are really helping. We don't have any problems with supplies," he added.

The U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is also taking measures to ensure that internally displaced persons (IDPs) in its compound in Juba were safe.

"We are very careful because this is a very serious threat, but the protection site is very safe," UNMISS spokesperson Ariane Quentier told AA.

"We have been very careful taking measures improving all drainage systems and decongesting the site to create more space, she said.

"We are also establishing treatment centers just in case," Quentier added.

The U.N. mission is also coordinating with the World Health Organization in Juba to vaccinate IDPs.

"We are organizing vaccination with the WHO at the protection site," Quentier said.

Local authorities in Juba, meanwhile, have issued orders to help contain cholera.

"The sale of fresh vegetables and fruits shall be limited to specific areas within markets and must be well protected from flies," read the order.

"The sale of raw foodstuff must be restricted to designated areas within markets and locations," it added.

Authorities have also ordered that all water providers must ensure that untreated water is chlorinated before being distributed and sold at collection points.

"All persons in Juba City are reminded to keep their environs clean and free from flies and stagnant water; possible sprays with disinfectants are advisable," the order read.

"Any institution or person who contravenes this order shall be fined with an amount of 500 South Sudanese pounds [roughly $125]," Juba City Mayor Christopher Wani Swaka told AA.

"We can also decide on confiscating the equipment and materials and withdraw the license of businesses which fail to abide by the order or destroy equipment," he said.

"The purpose of this order shall be to control and reduce the spread of cholera within communities, families and institutions in Juba and its environs," added the mayor.

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