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Commander warns Health

Maciu Malo
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AS authorities wrangle over strategies to control the spread of communicable diseases, it has emerged that three more people are dead and nine others admitted to the Lautoka Hospital as a result of flood-borne diseases.

The deaths bring to seven the number of people who have perished after floodwaters receded about three weeks ago.

Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki maintains there should be a ban on the consumption of kava and restriction in the movement of people in flood restricted areas while the Health Ministry, which rejected his proposal, says there is no need for panic.

Cdr Cawaki is adamant that these strategies will help contain the spread of typhoid, leptospirosis and dengue fever.

Of the seven who died, three had contracted leptospirosis, three typhoid and two dengue.

The nine admitted are from a village in Ba ù who reported yesterday that another villager was rushed to the hospital on Sunday night.

Cdr Cawaki has issued a call for a State of Emergency in flood-affected areas ù and his proposal is supported by the permanent secretary for Provincial Development, Colonel Inia Seruiratu.

Cdr Cawaki said young people were dying and he would have to take the matter into his hands if the issue did not draw the serious attention of relevant authorities.

"We have already made our submission to the Health Ministry to declare the State of Emergency on some flood affected areas in the West out of the fear of an outbreak," said Cdr Cawaki.

"We cannot sit back and see people dying so we have therefore deployed teams to some villages to traditionally ask the villagers to ban the consumption of yaqona rather than wait for the green light to be given by the Health Ministry."

"We have people reporting to the hospital every day and we need to mobilise and assist in the fight to stop the outbreak. The only good way to prevent the outbreak is by declaring a state of emergency in these areas and to screen all flood-affected residents."

Cdr Cawaki said they had identified some hot spots where communicable diseases were spreading fast.

"Koroboya Village in Ba is one area that has been declared as hot spot area with nine villagers now in hospital," he said.

"Dengue, leptospirosis and typhoid are the main cause of deaths and illness brought about by the recent flood.

"We are worried that the outbreak could claim more lives if the matter is not addressed early."

He said his team had also identified specific areas in the west to ban yaqona and mass gathering.

The first death made public was only known after The Fiji Times stumbled upon the family of the late Maraia Lewatu from Naviyago, Lautoka. Grieving family members reported they were shocked when told Lewatu died of dengue because she had earlier visited the hospital where she was sent home and told to take paracetomol.

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