South Sudan’s government has declared cholera outbreak in the capital city, where at least 18 people died and 171 cases were confirmed. “After subjecting those [suspected] cases to analysis … we confirm beyond doubt that there is an outbreak of cholera in Juba,” Health Minister Dr Riek Gai Kok told journalists in Juba on Tuesday.
The first suspected case was received on June 1 originating from inside the UN ‘displaced persons’ camp on the outskirts of Juba. Cases have since spread outside the camp to some of the city’s most congested neighbourhoods. There are now 171 confirmed cases of cholera and 18 deaths from the disease, according to the ministry of health.
World Health Organization guidelines indicate that an outbreak should be declared after 10 to 20 confirmed cases. The health minister was reluctant to explain why the government waited for three weeks before going public. He said “we are not here today to investigate the past … information is not a cure alone … In the last two weeks we have not been idle”.
He said that they have spent the time setting up a treatment ward, increasing surveillance and case management and trying to verify confirmed cases. “What was lacking was the public declaration, but already we have been taking measures. “We want to contain it here in Juba. We don’t want it to overspill [into other parts of the country,” said the minister.