BINTULU: As of Aug 4, a total of five food premises here have been closed temporarily for sterilising procedures due to the cholera outbreak first detected on July 14.
Among the five premises were Hartz Chicken, Sugar Bun Li Hua, Nasi Ayam Singapura, KFF Ice Works Sdn. Bhd and May Bright Trading Co, Taman Filipino, said a source from the Health Department.
Based on an investigation by the department, the outbreak is believed to have started from a group of people participating in Bintulu Regatta from Rh Gawan who used water from Kemena River to wash plates, fish and their hands.
The bacteria from the river contaminated the food and the hands of the people during the regatta and then spread from person to person, contaminating food and drinks.
To date a total of 34 localities have tested positive for cholera.
During the inquiry at several localities on the use of toilets, the data collected found that there were localities that did not have toilets, no proper toilets or damaged toilets.
This resulted in people using the environment to ease themselves including rivers.
The state Health Department also suspects that the cholera bacterium was spread from the Ramadan bazaars here due to the contaminated food and drinks sold.
As of Aug 4, some 18 food operators have tested positive for cholera.
The Ramadan bazaars are found at three localities namely Bintulu Esplanade (40 stalls), Kidurong (38 stalls) and Medan Assyakirin (92 stalls).
The Bintulu Health Office had discussed with Bintulu Development Authority to strengthen their monitoring and enforcement in the areas.
Spot checks with the BDA and the police will be held periodically. The BDA has been doing daily cleaning at all Ramadan bazaar sites.
As of Aug 4, about 624 people are suspected to be infected, with 110 patients testing positive for the bacterium vibrio cholerae and have been admitted for further treatment.