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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Wracked by Runaway Cholera Epidemic

KIEV -- A cholera epidemic advanced across areas of Ukraine, leaving seven people dead and more than 150 ill, and authorities in the former Soviet republic admitted Wednesday they had lacked the skills to contain the outbreak.


The Black Sea Crimean peninsula remained the focus of the epidemic and registered the latest of five dead -- a woman aged 78. A total of 71 people were suffering from cholera and more than 1,300 were being treated for other intestinal diseases.


Officials said they were considering closing schools as well as vacation homes -- the life blood of what was once the Kremlin's preferred summer resort area.


"We have been unable to bring the situation under control because we just didn't have the skills to do so," Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Valery Samoplavsky told reporters in the Crimean capital, Simferopol.


"People must know the truth, however bitter it might be. I believe a decision will be taken today to close all schools in Simferopol. We are also considering closing vacation homes in Yalta and Alushta from Oct. 1."


The second large pocket of cholera remained Mykolayiv, northwest of Crimea, where one person has died and 66 were ill -- nearly twice the figure of 24 hours earlier.


New cases were reported in southern Kherson and Zaporizha districts. Outbreaks were reported for the first time in Chernivtsi far to the west by the Romanian border, and near Dnipropetrovsk, where a farm laborer in contact with Korean immigrant workers had come down with the disease.


At least eight people have died in a simultaneous flareup of the disease in Albania. In Russia, Itar-Tass said an outbreak which killed at least 15 in the Caucasus region of Dagestan in June was being brought under control.


In Simferopol, officials reported 10 new cases overnight. Daytime temperatures were around 37 degrees Celsius and officials warned of even greater cuts in supplies of water already received only every other day in homes and public places.


A total of 1,334 people were being treated in three special hospitals kept under guard by paramilitary troops also drafted in to hose down and disinfect rubbish containers, public toilets and railway stations.


"The disease is now being spread among members of families. That's why the figures are getting higher," top epidemic specialist Anatoly Padchenko said by telephone in Kiev, 1,000 kilometers north of Simferopol.


"No country can be guaranteed to be free of cholera. But this depends greatly on sanitary conditions and standards of personal hygiene, which in our country are not ideal."