Panama braces for cholera

The government of Panama issued a sanitary alert, promoting hygiene and awareness in an effort to prevent the spread of cholera, which has been spreading throughout Haiti since October.

Panamanian Health Minister Franklin Vergara announced that the measure would include reinforcement at health checks at the major entry points into the country, Balita reports. In late October, Panama issued a similar alert at its major airports, including Tocumen airport in Panama City, which receives flights from Port-au-Prince in Haiti on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

In October, Panamanian authorities were also ordered to take special care with the waste water management from planes arriving from Haiti.

“Panama is not immune from this disease since it is a transit country,” Vergara said, according to Xinhua. “We have not relaxed (our vigilance), and we maintain checkpoints in ports and airports in the entire country.”

The alert urged the people of Panama to maintain very strict hygiene measures, especially in zones affected by recent flooding. The measure also included a campaign to raise awareness about the disease and was reinforced by surveillance, laboratory, environment, epidemiological sanitation and food safety measures.

The cholera epidemic has killed 2,535 Haitian people so far, with other cases reported in the Dominican Republic and the United States.