Peru has issued an emergency health decree in flood-ravaged areas of the Andean nation amidst fears of an outbreak of dengue, Zika and chikungunya following devastating floods to the northern regions of Lambayeque, Madre de Dios and Tumbes, officials reported on Wednesday (February 08).
So far this year, floods in Peru have already killed 25 people and affected almost 250,000 people in 24 regions, according to the National Civil Defence Institute (Indeci). Local water and sewage infrastructures have been strained in the worst-hit regions of Lambayeque, Tumbes and Piura.
With many homes inundated with flood water and mud, health officials fear virus-carrying mosquitos may put the local population at risk.
Officials have already confirmed at least 80 cases of dengue nationally. With the added threat of Zika and chikungunya also lurking, emergency measures have been put in place including fumigating for mosquitoes.
“To face the elevated risk to public health from people exposed to flooded areas, including the collapse of drinking water and the sewerage systems, today we have issued an emergency health decree. This health emergency will be in place for 90 days in the departments of Lambayeque, Piura and Tumbes,” said Prime Minister Fernando Zavala.
Authorities report that 168 tonnes of aid such as clean drinking water have already been delivered to communities hardest hit by the heavy rains and floods.
More than 3,000 troops have been sent to the regions to deal with the emergency and mudslides caused by the heavy rainfall, according to local media reports.
According to the WHO, there is no specific treatment for dengue. Early clinical diagnosis is essential to preserve life.
But with communities cut off by floods, many fear that those sick will not be able to get the attention they need.
Relief is still a long way off for areas hit by the heavy rain. According to Peru’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services the wet weather will continue until April.