SUVA, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The outbreak of infectious disease is now a serious threat to people living on Vanuatu's volcanically active Ambae Island.
The island's Manoro volcano, a large and geologically active volcano, has been erupting since late last year, and thick ashfalls and acid rain have forced many people to flee their homes.
According to Radio New Zealand (RNZ) on Thursday, Vanuatu's national coordinator for emergency medical teams Basil Leodoro said that this was causing psychological stress on people who had been forced to leave their homes and food gardens as a result of the eruptions. The volcanic alert level currently remains at level 3.
Leodoro said that crowded evacuation centers and contaminated ground water created conditions suitable for disease outbreak. An outbreak of gastroenteritis, mumps or influenza could spread rapidly through Ambae's closely knit community.
He said that they were working very closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and their team as well as their provincial staff who were based on Ambae to monitor the surveillance and disease reports coming in.
Shelter and accommodation, as well as hygiene and sanitation, were the most pressing concerns for Ambae's displaced population, he said, adding that more work was required to ensure the aid delivered to Ambae got to people who needed it the most.
The island's Manoro volcano experienced a significant new eruption in November 2005, followed by unrest until 2017. In early 2017, this volcanic unrest escalated and the volcano started erupting in September 2017. This eruption has occurred over three phases since September 2017.
In Phase 3, namely from February to May 2018, there has been thick and widespread volcanic ashfalls across the island of Ambae, causing significant impacts on food supplies, water, shelter and the health of Ambae Island residents.
The Vanuatu government has said that the 11,000 people of the Ambae island can voluntarily evacuate to nearby island of Maewo in order to prevent themselves from being hurt by ashfall from the erupting Manaro Voui crater. The relocation will voluntarily start from June 1 until July 30 this year.