13 Mar 2013

Dengue state of emergency at Solomons' national hospital

4:56 pm on 13 March 2013

A state of emergency is in place at Solomon Islands' national referral hospital in Honiara to enable staff to concentrate on an outbreak of dengue fever.

The ministry of health's permanent secretary, Dr Lester Ross, says one person has died from the mosquito-borne illness, which commonly causes very high fever and severe headache.

Dr Ross says under the state of emergency staff are recommended not to travel and to attend only to emergency and dengue-infected patients.

He says there are at least 169 people known to have the illness and it is the first time there has been such a large scale outbreak in Solomon Islands.

"We are trying to see how best to open up in the Honiara city as well as in Guadalcanal province where people can go as the first port of call instead of all going to the national referral hospital if one suspects or has signs or symptoms of dengue fever."

Dr Lester Ross says reducing mosquitoes' breeding habitat of standing water is the primary way of tackling dengue's spread.

He says the health ministry is recommending there be a national clean-up day next week but people should start cleaning up now by dumping or burying rubbish such as coconut shells and empty tin cans.