PORT-AU-PRINCE — At least seven people died in Haiti after contracting cholera, Dr. Lauré Adrien, general director of the Ministry of Health and Population (MSPP), said in an Oct. 2 press conference.
“The victims could not be evacuated in time when diarrhea and vomiting appeared,” Dr. Adrien said. “Among the victims of the disease is a child.”
The first cases were identified in Carrefour-Feuilles and Cité Soleil, particularly in the Brooklyn district, MSPP said in a public note.
Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused by food or water contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. Many residents do not have access to clean water because of a gas shortage. The Force Revolutionary G9 gang blocked Terminal Varreux, the main gas storage facility, since Sept. 21. As a result, some water companies such as Culligan are not operating.
Haiti had a cholera outbreak in 2010 for 10 months, which killed at least 10,000 people, and infected hundreds of thousands more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Haiti held vaccination campaigns to help reduce the spread of the virus.
MSPP said it is taking care of infected and hospitalized people. In addition, measures will be taken to prevent the spread of the disease in the country. To prevent the disease from spreading MSPP is urging residents to wash their hands with soap and water, drink water that is treated with products made with bleach, protect their food and use the restroom in a toilet.
The United Nations admitted that the 2010 cholera outbreak was introduced to Haiti by peacekeepers after they dumped raw sewage directly into rivers from which thousands of Haitians routinely drew water for cooking and drinking.
The last confirmed case of cholera before this new outbreak was in February 2019. On Feb. 4, 2022, Haitian authorities celebrated the elimination of cholera and are hoping to receive an official certificate of elimination.
Any country that reports no confirmed cases of cholera for three years, while having a strict control system to also observe the evolution of the disease, receives a certificate from WHO. MSPP has to submit a report on how they managed to spend three years without any confirmed cases of cholera for WHO to give them the certificate.
Despite the country being on lockdown and after confirmed cases of cholera, the Ministry of National Education still considers Oct. 3 as the first day of school but said it is difficult to start school and is waiting for a “gradual opening of school,” in a public note.