'Russia running out of steam' in Donbas says Sir Richard Barrons
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The report by the British Ministry of Defence has suggested Russia is struggling to provide basic public services in occupied territory in Eastern Ukraine. It appears access to safe drinking water has been inconsistent, whilst major disruption has occurred to others services such as phone lines and internet supplies.
Captured city Mariupol has worryingly reported its first cases of cholera and remains a major risk for a full outbreak of the water-bound disease.
Ukraine suffered a cholera epidemic in 1995, and has continued to suffer from minor outbreaks of the disease since.
The invasion by Russia, added to the inability to provide fresh, clean drinking water and other sanitation services to areas occupied could lead to more cases and a major pandemic.
Medical services are also at a near collapse in major cities such as Mariupol, making the treatment of patients highly impractical.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.
The virus remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the symptoms and consequences of cholera can be quite varied.
Most of those infected will have no or mild symptoms and can be successfully treated with oral rehydration solution.
Most people infected with V. cholerae do not develop any symptoms, although the bacteria are present in their faeces for 1-10 days after infection and are shed back into the environment, potentially infecting other people.
Among people who develop symptoms, the majority have mild or moderate symptoms, while a minority develop acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration. This can lead to death if left untreated.
An adviser to the occupied port city of Mariupol’s mayor said drinking water had been contaminated by decomposing garbage and corpses, increasing the risk of more infections.
“The word ‘cholera’ is not only coming from us now, but inside the city,” Petro Andryushchenko said on Ukrainian television.
He added city officials had received information that a nearby Russian city across the border was preparing infectious disease units in case of a cholera outbreak that could affect Russian troops in Mariupol.
He continued: “So really, this threat is not only recognised by the World Health Organization and us, but the occupants as well.”
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