28 Apr 2020

Fiji govt warns of 'LTDD' diseases post-cyclone

1:37 pm on 28 April 2020

Fiji's government has warned of a rise in diseases with the potential to prove deadlier than Cyclone Harold which hit the country this month.

Jemesa Tudravu is the Chief Medical Adviser in Fiji.

Jemesa Tudravu is the Chief Medical Adviser in Fiji. Photo: Supplied/Fiji govt

The warning comes after three cases of leptospirosis were recorded since the storm.

The Ministry of Health said it had now launched a door-to-door 'LTDD' campaign across the country to combat leptospirosis, typhoid, dengue and diarrhoea.

Chief Medical Adviser Jemesa Tudravu said while Covid-19 had gripped the country, there was a need to stay alert of other deadly illnesses.

Dr Tudravu urged the public to do their part to eliminate these diseases.

"We need to clean up our homes, clean up our compounds, clean up areas in our community that are possible breeding grounds for vectors, for pests and therefore for diseases."

Dr Tudravu said leptospirosis could be caught when people did not cover and protect cuts or wounds on their hands and feet.

"Make sure you have good footwear, wear gumboots, wear gloves to avoid getting leptospirosis."

He pointed out that typhoid and diarrhoea were, for the most part, food and water-borne.

"Ensure that all food is well cooked and are covered. People living in areas that suffered during the cyclone should boil all drinking water."

"Diarrhoea occurs when people eat food that is not cleaned properly and becomes contaminated. If you're suspicious about the food, it's best not to consume it and dispose of it," he said.

When it came to dengue, the Chief Medical Advisor said mosquitoes were the main problem.

"Dengue is caused by mosquitoes that live near and inside the homes.

"Tin cans and containers lying around the house should be cleared as when water is collected in these receptacles, they become breeding grounds for mosquitoes," he said.

'Be honest and cooperate'

Dr Tudravu called on the public to cooperate with medical teams conducting screenings across the country.

The chief medical adviser said medical teams will continue to visit communities to conduct checks.

Jemesa Tudravu said people should cooperate with the teams and give the accurate information.

"When you are asked a question, please be honest. Tell the truth - all the details you have will be important for the health officials to determine how best to defeat these diseases.

"As with Covid-19 measures, wash your hands and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Social distancing is very important. Make [it] a habit, make [it] second nature to you so that you don't have to be asked or told.

"You will also be able to teach and encourage others around you to practice the same," said Dr Tudravu.

Twin disasters

Meanwhile the Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete underlined that Fiji was dealing with at least two crises - the Covid-19 pandemic and Cyclone Harold recovery.

Dr Waqainabete said the diseases cited by Dr Tudravu were often common after cyclones.

"We have had three so far during this cyclone season, tropical cyclone season having passed right through the group," he said.

As far as Covid-19 was concerned, tminister pointed out about 350,000 people had been screened for the coronavirus.

Fiji has had 18 confirmed case of Covid-19, with most having now recovered.

Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete.

Health Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete. Photo: Alex Perrottet / RNZ