Sunday, 3 July, 2022

Fears of cholera outbreak in Mariupol

In Mariupol, the ravaged southeastern Ukrainian port city now under Russian occupation, fears have shifted from relentless bombardment to deteriorating sanitary conditions: sewage seeping into drinking water and fears of a cholera outbreak.

On Monday, one of the city's exiled local officials said that Russian officials now in control of Mariupol were considering imposing a quarantine in the city, where decomposing corpses and garbage were contaminating drinking water, putting remaining residents at risk of cholera and other diseases.

“There are talks about quarantine. The city is being quietly closed," said mayoral adviser Petro Andriushchenko, a reliable source of information from residents remaining in the city.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the alarm about the potential for a cholera outbreak in Mariupol and has pre-positioned vaccines in Dnipro, but it is not clear how they would get to residents. Cholera, an infection that causes acute diarrhea​, is linked to inadequate access to clean water and kills tens of thousands around the world every year, according to WHO.

Dr. Dorit Nitzan, WHO Europe's emergencies director, who visited Ukraine last month, said that the hygienic situation in Mariupol was a huge hazard. “We got information that there are swamps actually in the streets, and the sewage water and drinking water are getting mixed,” Dr. Nitzan said on May 17 in the capital Kyiv.

Andriushchenko said that it was "difficult to convey" how grim the situation had become in Mariupol, with natural water sources in the city waning as warmer months arrive and Russian evacuations stopping altogether.

The deputy mayor of Mariupol, Serhiy Orlov, who is not in Mariupol either, said Tuesday that he believes around 150,000 people remain in the city out of a pre-invasion population of more than 400,000, with a further 30,000 to 40,000 in surrounding suburbs.