CAIRO - Algerian health authorities claim the situation is under control after a cholera epidemic in at least four provinces caused more than 60 confirmed cases of the disease, with several deaths reported.
Residents in a village of Tipaza province are drinking water from a spring government officials claim is infected with the cholera virus. But residents counter the spring is safe to drink from and that the government analysis is mistaken.
Cholera outbreaks have been confirmed in Tipaza, Blida, Algiers, and Bouira provinces. More than 130 people have been hospitalized with suspected cases of cholera this month and more than 60 cases were confirmed. At least three people have died, according to Algerian media.
Algeria's health minister, Mokhtar Hazblawi, recently said health officials have been doing their best to keep on top of the situation.
He says since the disease surfaced, the health ministry has devised a strategy to control it and stop it from spreading.
Issam Eddin Bouyoucef of the El Hadi Flici Hospital Center, which treats infectious diseases in Algiers, told Al Hurra TV hundreds of people have come to the hospital fearing they were suffering from cholera.
He said patients must be quarantined and the disease isolated. He stressed his hospital has set up a specialized isolated wing to treat patients while they recover, once the disease has been confirmed.
Bouyoucef said many people have been panicking, mistaking stomach ailments for cholera. Local media report consumers are buying up large quantities of mineral water.
An elderly resident of capital Algiers told Al Hurra TV he was afraid of the potentially deadly disease and thinks that a large number of people who live in his area have been sickened.
Physician Mohammed Gamary complained to a local TV station the media uncovered the cholera epidemic before the government did. He said doctors in Khazrouna, where the disease was first detected, should have sounded the alarm when they noticed the unusual number diarrhea cases.
Pharmacies in Algiers have been selling large quantities of salts to treat diarrhea, while many people have been avoiding fruit and vegetables, which they fear may be contaminated with the cholera virus.