Home International China faces disease risk after floods, toll reaches 1,117

China faces disease risk after floods, toll reaches 1,117


Beijing : Risk of water-borne diseases was growing in China as floods and mudslides wiped out its sanitation facilities, while people were scurrying for food and drinking water, with the toll rising to 1,117 Wednesday.

Over 600 people were missing in the deluge in Gansu province in northwest China, authorities said.

Lack of drinking water, toilets and crowded living conditions are increasing the risk of a disease outbreak, officials said.

“If we cannot guarantee safe drinking water and a healthy living environment, it is highly risky for infectious disease to occur,” Yang Jian, a senior official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told China Daily.

Several cases of intestinal infections have been reported, he said.

Water is most crucial for epidemic control at the moment, and it appears that the water in Zhouqu is unsafe for health, although the final test result is on its way, he said.

In a temporary medical centre in Zhouqu No 1 Middle School, several children and some adults suffered from diarrhoea Tuesday, said doctor Yang Long, in charge of the centre.

“Unhealthy drinking water and food mainly caused the disease and we need more medicine,” Yang said.

Bai Jinyi, director of a disinfection team in Zhouqu, said the amount of garbage is increasing rapidly because of the damage and the continual resettlement of affected residents.

“It (garbage) is bad for health and victims are often going back and forth to their shattered homes to look for valuable things, which also increases the possibility of them getting sick,” Bai said.

Yang Haifeng, a 42-year-old surgeon in the temporary medical centre, said people must pay more attention to safe drinking and eating, and wash their hands frequently.

Due to the high temperature in Zhouqu, food easily gets spoiled and water must be boiled before drinking, he said.

The temporary medical centre is located in the lobby of the school, about 100 sq meters, and doctors’ tables are made of several school desks pushed together.

Only minor injuries and diseases like cold and fever can be treated under such conditions, doctors said.

All the 11 doctors at the centre arrived in Zhouqu Sunday afternoon right after the mudslide. Zhouqu has set up five such medical centres.

To prevent diseases, the local disease control bureau is sending people daily to disinfect all the settlements as well as public places like schools and garbage collection sites.

The health ministry has sent 21 medical teams and 363 medical staff to Zhouqu to provide medical aid, spokesman of the ministry, Deng Haihua said at a press conference.

“The ministry has cooperated with the military and airlines to transport the injured, and an expert team has been set up to help the severely injured get necessary treatment within 48 hours,” Deng said.

As of Monday afternoon, the Zhouqu county hospital has treated 117 injured people, including 29, who were severely wounded, according to the ministry.