KRATIE provincial hospital has admitted six new patients suffering from severe vomiting and diarrhoea, its deputy director said Monday, as officials continue to await test results to determine whether cholera was responsible for the deaths of five people late last week.
Chhneang Vutha said some 200 people had come down with severe diarrhoea and vomiting province-wide in the past five days. He said 69 had been treated by the hospital and the rest by health centres.
“I have not yet received the results from sample testing regarding whether it is a cholera case or not,” he said, adding that hospital workers would continue to educate patients about the role of hygiene in preventing the illness from spreading.
Pieter van Maaren, country representative for the World Health Organisation, said he had not yet received reports from the Health Ministry on the cholera test results, but that he had been informed that health officials in Kratie were “in full control of the situation”.
“This is something that is being investigated,” he said. “As with all cholera cases, I want to make it very clear that cholera can only be confirmed by laboratory investigation.”
Nevertheless, Toun Ngork, the governor of Kratie’s Chet Borei district, said Monday that he remained convinced that all five people who died in the district had been stricken with cholera.
“I confirmed from the health officials in the province that they died because of cholera,” he said. “They got it because most people in this district drink [unboiled] water.”
Van Maaren said that beyond providing an official diagnosis, the test results would be helpful in devising measures to prevent the illness in Kratie from spreading. But he reiterated the position of the WHO and the government that the diagnosis was not a primary concern.
“In essence it doesn’t make any difference to us whether acute watery diarrhoea is caused by cholera or something else, because the treatment is the same,” he said.
“In all cases the primary treatment that has to be taken is plenty of fluids.”