7 Sep 2009

PNG ponders state of emergency in Morobe

1:19 pm on 7 September 2009

A state of emergency is expected to be declared in Papua New Guinea this afternoon as a deadly outbreak of cholera spreads to the city of Lae in Morobe province.

The official death toll from outbreaks of cholera and influenza and dysentery in the province stands at 100, although eyewitness accounts indicate it could be more than 400.

The chief executive officer of Angau Memorial General Hospital in Lae says three people from the city have now died from cholera, and the hospital is treating 29 people with the disease.

Dr Chalau Polapoi says two cholera patients are in tents which the army has erected at the hospital.

He says they need extra staff to deal with the outbreak but this is now being handled by a central command centre.

"We still need staff, we still need some additional staff. We are discussing with the command so they will have to advise us about all those logistics."

Dr Polapoi says they are standing by to deal with a major increase if that happens.