Diseases lurk as floodwater recedes
As the Surma has been flowing below the danger level at some points in Sylhet city and Sunamganj town for two consecutive days yesterday, floodwaters are receding fast in many areas.
Against this backdrop, doctors warn of the risk of locals contracting waterborne diseases considering that all sources of drinking water will remain contaminated for at least a few weeks.
Visiting some areas in Sylhet city, this correspondent saw that water has been stagnant in the drains, canals and low-lying spaces, and is beginning to emit bad odour.
Santu Das, a resident of the city's Jamtola area, said, "While the water is receding, all the garbage carried by the flood still remains and has been stinking up all the areas. Every previously flooded area is in need of quick cleaning and bleaching."
Meanwhile, Md Zahidul Islam, chief health officer of Sylhet City Corporation, said, "By drinking contaminated water from tube wells or even the regular water supply, many people might contract waterborne diseases and this is a high-priority issue now.
"We will be running awareness campaigns in this regard twice a week in all wards, while water purification tablet distribution continues. We are also planning to clean the city."
In Sylhet district, 140 medical teams are working in 103 flooded unions of all 13 upazilas and the city, according to Sylhet civil surgeon office.
It said 43 people in the district have had diarrhoea till yesterday, while two people have been suffering from respiratory issues, three from skin diseases, and five others from other waterborne diseases.
Meanwhile, six people have so far died either by drowning or falling under landslides during the floods.
SM Shahreer, the civil surgeon in Sylhet, said, "All medical teams have been distributing water purifying tablets and providing necessary awareness information to the people. But local representatives need to play a more vital role in ensuring that the services reach the remote parts of the affected areas."
The situation in Sunamganj is better as not many cases of waterborne diseases have been recorded yet, said Ahmmad Hossain, civil surgeon of Sunamganj.
"As water purification tablets are being distributed among all flood-affected people, we are hoping not to see an outbreak of disease."
While the flood situation is improving, many low-lying areas in both Sylhet city and Sunamganj town still remain submerged as the Surma and the Kushiyara are flowing above the danger level at some points.
According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC), the Surma was flowing 57cm above the danger level at Sylhet's Kanaighat point around 3:00pm yesterday.
The Kushiyara at the same time was flowing 78cm above the danger level at Amolshid in Sylhet's Zakiganj upazila, and 26cm above the danger level at Sheola point in the district's Beanibazar upazila.
Yesterday, the Puratan Surma in Sunamganj's Derai upazila was flowing at the danger level, while The Someshwari in Netrokona's Kalmakanda was flowing 16cm above it.
The FFWC report, signed by its Executive Engineer Md Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, yesterday stated that the flood situations in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Netrokona will further improve in the 24 hours till this morning.