Water-borne disease fear

BOIL all drinking water, Fijian medical authorities say as they sound alerts on the risks of water-borne diseases following the impact of Tropical Cyclone Harold.

The category 4 system caused widespread devastation and flooding through most parts of the country in the early hours of Tuesday, April 8th.

The National Disaster Management Office is taking stock of the full impact of the cyclone but so far reports from around the country include significant damage to structures including schools and power lines, trees and vegetation.

Many have been displaced as 1778 are now in 69 centers in all four divisions of the country.

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services Chief Medical Advisor Doctor Jemesa Tudravu said drinking contaminated water would pose additional challenge for the country given its ongoing work to contain the spread of COVID19 in Fiji.

Tudravu said possible outbreaks and spread of water-related diseases such as typhoid and leptospirosis are common after floodings and periods of water cuts. Damage to water infrastructure and sanitation facilities will contribute to further transmission.

At the height of TC Harold yesterday, the NDMO received reports of widespread flooding in the central and western divisions.

“Boil drinking water as much as possible. Communities where water supply is affected, please boil all drinking water for your family and yourself,” Dr Tudravu said.

“Maintain healthy personal hygiene, washing of hands for 20second with soap and water or use alcohol-based gel or sanitizer if you have access to these. Maintain social distancing in response to the COVID19 threat that we have at the moment.”

“For children and adults, don’t play in and/or near flooded streams and rivers. If you have to go outside, use proper protective equipment including gumboots to ensure one is not exposed to infectious disease.”

Tudravu said care must be taken when preparing and storing food particularly after power cuts adding that foods that have not been stored properly are not safe for consumption.

The ministry will reach out to flood-affected communities as soon as the all-clear for movement is given and evacuees returned to their respective homes.

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