7 Sep 2009

State of emergency in PNG's Morobe likely after spread of cholera into Lae

3:32 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 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.

The official death toll from outbreaks of cholera, and influenza and dysentery in Morobe province stands at 100.

But the Governor of Morobe Province Luther Wenge says eyewitness accounts indicate there could be more than 400 dead.

Our correspondent Oseah Philemon says the fluctuating figures are not surprising

"A lot of the places where disease have been reported it takes days to walk to the nearest health centre to provide a report. So by the time whoever travels to the health centre, more people will have died. So what the governor is saying is quite correct because of the rugged terrain, lack of road access, and lack of communication."

Oseah Philemon says a state of emergency is expected to be declared this afternoon after a meeting of the National Executive Council.