UN confirms five cholera cases in Haiti capital

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The United Nations has confirmed five cases of cholera in Haiti's capital after a sudden epidemic of cholera in northern and central Haiti killed 220 people, according to a UN report seen on Sunday.

UN health officials said on Saturday that cholera had reached the capital Port-au-Prince, as officials scrambled to contain a wider outbreak 10 months after an earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation.

The UN Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a situation report that all those cases in the quake-torn capital involved people who had travelled from the affected Artibonite and Central areas.

"Of the five people with confirmed cases of cholera in Port-au-Prince, four were shown to have originated in Artibonite and one from the Central department," OCHA said.

"These cases thus do not represent a spread of the epidemic because this is not a new location of infection," the UN body added, saying it was "not unexpected."

"The identification of the five cases in the capital, while worrying, also demonstrates that the reporting systems for epidemic management are functioning."

The report made available on a relief website said the main St. Nicholas hospital in the northern city of St. Marc was "filled to capacity", while "other health facilities are under strain to cope with the numbers of patients."

OCHA said the humanitarian community was ramping up its aid to fill "key gaps in prevention and response."

© 2010 AFP

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