Syria reports three cholera deaths and two dozen new cases

Health officials urge public to drink only clean water and wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly

A lab technician works on samples to test for cholera at a hospital in Aleppo. AFP
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Hospitals in the Syrian capital of Damascus and beyond have been put on high alert after least three deaths were reported in the country, health officials said on Monday.

With more than two dozen cases of cholera also reported, the main cause of the spread appeared to be people drinking polluted water, and watering plants with unclean water.

Syria’s infrastructure has suffered severe damage since civil war broke out in March 2011, leaving residents in some areas without access to clean water.

The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s prewar population of 23 million, with many now living in tented settlements around the country.

The World Health Organisation’s office in Damascus had no immediate comment.

The head of the Syrian Health Ministry, Mohammed Samer Shahrour, said his office was co-ordinating with departments in all provinces to test water, as well as some fruit and vegetables. He said hospitals in government-held parts of the country had the medicines required to deal with surge in cholera cases.

In areas controlled by US-backed fighters in north-eastern Syria, the head of the health department in the region, Jwan Mustafa, reported three deaths at the weekend.

Mr Mustafa said most of the cases in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria were in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. He said some patients had already been discharged from hospital.

In the northern city of Aleppo, the Health Ministry reported 15 cases, including a 9-year-old who had been suffering diarrhoea and vomiting before receiving treatment and being discharged.

The ministry said cholera had been discovered in a factory that makes ice cubes, which was closed immediately.

Health officials urged people to ensure they drink water from a known clean source, as well as to wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating.

Updated: September 12, 2022, 2:47 PM