Haiti Cholera Death Toll Hits 643

The death toll from the cholera outbreak in Haiti has hit 643, as the epidemic continues to spread across the flood-stricken country.

According to the Haitian health ministry, nearly 10,000 people have been so far diagnosed with the disease and are receiving treatment.

“The epidemic of cholera, a highly contagious disease, is no longer a simple emergency, it’s now a matter of national security,” AFP quoted the director general of the Haiti’s health department, Gabriel Thimote, on Tuesday.

Only on Tuesday, some 46 deaths were registered in the northern region of Arti-bonite, where the outbreak first appeared, close to the city of Gonaives, the capital of the department.

About 42 deaths have also been registered in the Ouest department, near the capital Port-au-Prince.

However, in Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of quake victims are living in tents, there has only been one confirmed death, while 115 people have been admitted to hospitals.

In addition, medics are testing samples from two more patients that died with symptoms similar to cholera in the capital.

Meanwhile, the Haitian health ministry has warned that a large-scale outbreak in Port-au-Prince “is coming.”

Authorities believe that the early November flooding initiated by Hurricane Tomas had a great effect on the worsening of the epidemic in the capital.

“We have every reason to expect that the widespread flooding has increased the risk of cholera spreading.

The effects of this could become apparent through an upsurge of cases over the coming days,” said top UN health official Jon Andrus.

Waterborne cholera could spread swiftly as the island’s capital, which is home to an estimate of 1.3 millions Haitians taking shelter in camps, is in unsanitary conditions.

The UN peacekeeping force in Haiti is investigating claims that its infected tanks leaked into the Arti-bonite River valley in central Haiti in October.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that spreads through contaminated water, causing severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to the dehydration and death within hours.

Aid agencies are calling for emergency supplies for Haiti as there is shortage of emergency shelters, water and sanitation supplies.

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