At least 6,000 people have been infected with cholera and close to 100 others have died from the disease in Cameroon which is struggling to contain an outbreak of the water-borne disease.
According to the country’s public health ministry, the number of cholera patients received in hospitals was increasing daily. Officials have blamed a shortage of clean drinking water in towns and villages due to a long dry season for the outbreak.
An official with the ministry noted that cholera had spread to more than 40 percent of major towns, including the capital Yaoundé, the economic capital Douala, and western commercial towns such as Buea, Limbe and Bafoussam.
Linda Esso, director of epidemics and pandemics at the ministry, said several villages had reported cholera cases and the entire country was at risk from the outbreak.
The public health chief of Limbe in Cameroon’s Southwest region, Filbert Eko, said the area was the worst affected in the central African country recording more than 800 cases since February.
200 out of 300 patients reportedly had been treated and discharged from a government hospital in Limbe in just the last seven days.
Eko added that the outbreak prompted authorities to quarantine patients to prevent the disease from spreading further.
“The treatment center will be separated from the hospital and from the public. No outsider will be allowed to have access to the patients,” Eko said.
“We don’t want contact between families and the patients. We are taking [efforts] upon ourselves, searching for resources to feed these patients free of charge.”
President Paul Biya has deployed the ministers of water and health to assess the situation in affected regions.
The Public Health Minister, Manaouda Malachie, cautioned that Douala’s New Bell Prison had become an epicenter of the outbreak but did not give any details on whether any inmates had been infected or died from the disease.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Water Gaston Eloundou Essomba directed the Cameroon Water Distribution Company, the body in charge of water distribution in the country, to provide clean water to villages and towns affected by the outbreak.
Cameroon usually suffers from cholera outbreaks with one of the worst such incidents occurring in 2011 when more than 23,000 people were infected and 800 others died.