Balevuto Residents Urged to Clean Water Tanks Regularly

Residents of Balevuto Medical Area in Ba, about an hour’s drive from Fiji’s second city Lautoka, where seven people died and more than 90 cases of diarrhoea were recorded, have been urged to clean and flush out their water tanks regularly.

The advice comes after health officials found water sourced from water tanks in some households dirty.

Of the 24 people admitted to the hospital, since late August, from the Balevuto medical area including in Nukuloa, Balevuto, Nacaci, Toge, Vatusui, Tabataba, Naruku, Talaiya, and Moto, six are still admitted.

Outcome of Tests on Uplifted Samples

Apart from the one suspected case that has tested positive for Shigella sonnei, two more cases have tested positive for the bacteria eonteropathogenic E.Coli and two cases tested positive for the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. There are pathogens that are spread through the faeces of infected persons, and which are known to cause outbreaks of acute diarrhoeal illness.

The Ministry of Health said further specialised testing of patient samples will be done at a reference laboratory in Melbourne.

Analysis of Tap Water From Water Supply Scheme

According to the ministry, a chemical analysis of tap water sourced from the water supply scheme providing tap water to over 6,000 residents, conducted by Koronivia Research Station, shows all chemicals are within the normal range for drinking water standards (USAEPA Drinking Water Standards, 2018; WHO Drinking Water Standards 2019 Guidelines).

Samples sourced from alternative sources of water i.e., tanks and boreholes, are collected as well for analysis at Fiji CDC.

“The team have also collected food samples for testing and is doing house visits, supplying WASH kits, purification tablets and conducting public health awareness.”

Ongoing Intervention

Health personnel in Ba continue to carry out close follow-up of patients with chronic underlying disease, and the elderly who are most vulnerable in such outbreaks.

“The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has four teams on the ground actively monitoring the situation, and contingency plans are in place to expedite or escalate our response if necessary.”

Members of the community have also been urged to adhere to best hygiene practices including boiling all drinking water and proper handwashing with soap and water before and after meals, as well as after visiting the toilet.

Ministry of Health and Medical Services continues to work in close collaboration with partners including the Water Authority of Fiji, the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, and the Ministry of Education, and wishes to assure all residents that we are committed to addressing this issue promptly and transparently to ensure the health and well-being of our communities.

“We implore all residents in the outbreak and nearby areas, to prioritise good hygiene practices, including boiling all drinking water and proper handwashing with soap and water before and after meals, as well as after visiting the toilet.”

Residents who experience loose and watery stools, along with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever, headaches, bloating and flatulence, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.

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