STATE OF CALAMITY IN TONDO; 10 MORE FALL ILL

MANILA, NOVEMBER 19,  2003   (STAR) By Cecille Suerte Felipe - Ten more residents of Foreshore area in Tondo, Manila fell ill to gastro-enteritis in the past 24 hours even as the city council placed the area in a state of calamity.

This brings to 827 the number of cases since the outbreak of the disease in Oct. 23.

The council has placed Tondo in a state of calamity following water contamination that has killed eight persons and hospitalized hundreds.

In a resolution unanimously approved by all the city councilors present during the session yesterday, Districts 1 and 2 were declared "calamity areas."

Under the state of calamity, the local chief executive, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, is given the prerogative to use the calamity budget to initiate programs for the residents.

Atienza welcomed the passage of the resolution, saying this would enable the city to enhance disaster preparedness and continue to render assistance to residents of affected areas.

Manila City Hall and the Maynilad Water Services Inc. have immediately taken steps to contain sickness by putting water refilling stations.

Authorities blamed water contamination to illegal connection, leaking and ongoing works in the affected area.

Councilor Benjamin Asilo from District II said MWSI and the city government should be held liable for the tragedy that struck in Tondo area.

"As far as I know about 20 persons died in the contamination but apparently there was an effort to cover up the truth," Asilo told The STAR.

Aside from the death, Ailo said that more than 1,000 fell ill for taking contaminated water.

The city government reported that it is now coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) to handle the problem.

Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit said that to prevent gastro-enteritis from being spread by infected people, residents should see to it that they always wash their hands, especially when they are preparing food.

"There are microbs everywhere, especially in highly-populated places. We should be very meticulous in washing our hands," he added.

Dayrit also called on Foreshore residents to always clean their environment particularly the drainage canals.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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