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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 24 November 2020
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Cholera deaths slow in Haiti - but agencies remain on high alert

Even as the death rate falls, the UN warns that the spread of cholera in the devastated country has not come to an end.

Cholera victims receive serum at the St. Nicholas hospital in Saint Marc, Haiti.
Cholera victims receive serum at the St. Nicholas hospital in Saint Marc, Haiti.

DESPITE SOME SIGNS that the spread of cholera is stabilising in Haiti, the UN has warned that tens of thousands of people are still threatened by the outbreak, the BBC reports.

On Monday, the Haitian government said that just six new deaths had been reported in the past 24 hours – bringing the total of people known to have died from the disease to 259.

However, Haiti’s health ministry has recorded 300 new infections, bringing the total infection rate to 3,342.

UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Haiti Nigel Fisher said that, although there had been no new signs of the cholera spreading, the UN was preparing for a wider outbreak.

This is an extremely serious situation and based on experience with epidemics elsewhere it would be irresponsible to plan for anything but a considerably wider outbreak.

Cholera causes diarrhoea and vomiting leading to severe dehydration, and can kill within 24 hours if left untreated. If it is intercepted however, it is easily treated through rehydration and antibiotics.

Gabriel Thimote, director general of Haiti’s health department, confirmed on Monday that the rate of increase in cholera deaths had slowed.

However, as the number of infections had increased by 10 per cent since Sunday, rising from 3,015 to 3,342, aid agencies have said they will remain on alert.

Thimote said:

We think that the situation is stabilising. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have reached a peak.

UN spokeswoman Imogen Wall told the BBC that the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs was focusing on the mass distribution of soap and other basic hygiene items, including bucket with lids to prevent clean water becoming contaminated.

Haiti has enough antibiotics to treat 100,000 cases of cholera and intravenous fluids to treat 30,000, according to the UN.

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