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St Helena Online

The St Helena report and the gap in media

E-coli alert remains – but Jamestown gets the all-clear

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Water has been declared safe for drinking in parts of St Helena following a bacteria scare – but a warning to boil water remains in place for much of the island.

It’s been more than a week since potentially-dangerous E-coli bacteria was discovered in the island’s water supply. No cases of human infection have been found.

Jamestown and Longwood have both been given the all-clear. A statement was issued today (Saturday) by St Helena Government (SHG):

It is now safe to consume tap water supplied in Jamestown and areas supplied from the Hutts Gate treatment plant (including Longwood, Deadwood, Alarm Forest and Sea View). This is based on today’s test results, which also continue to show improvements in other areas.

We continue to see lower bacterial levels and better chlorination levels in other areas, but people resident outside Jamestown and Hutts Gate should continue to boil or sterilise their water.

Further testing is being undertaken in these areas in order to clear them as quickly as possible.

Chlorine levels have been raised, within international guidelines, and the network has been flushed. Testing showed treatment plants were clean, meaning the source of the bacteria was “somewhere in the network/domestic point of delivery”.

E-coli is a bacteria that lives naturally in the human gut. Its benefits include producing vitamin K2 and preventing more-harmful bacteria from growing. But some forms can kill vulnerable people. The type involved on St Helena has not been disclosed.

Islanders have been given sterilisation advice, here.

Scare puts testers to the test – on their big day

Scientific checks on the water supply have been carried out by staff at the St Helena Public Health Laboratory – which won UK accreditation for testing water on March 8.

Dr Sarel Bloem issued the “boil only” warning on the same day.

Left to right: Geoff Benjamin, Toni Joshua, Anna Thomas, Helena Stevens, Gift Sibanda and Clive Jones
Lab staff celebrated top-rating with a crisis

The laboratory was assessed remotely from the UK over six months last year, via an internet video link – making it a pioneering case. The same system will now be repeated with other remote territories.

An SHG spokesman said: “Credit goes to the entire team in the laboratory for the hard work they put in towards ensuring this milestone was achieved.  The hard work continued during this week with a high number of tests being required as a result of the problems being experienced with the water supply.”

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