Cholera crisis: Outbreak hits 1,400 cases in flood-ravaged Mozambique

Desiree Burns
April 5, 2019

Mozambican and global health workers raced Monday to contain a cholera outbreak in the cyclone-hit city of Beira and surrounding areas, where the number of cases has jumped to more than 1,000.

Health authorities said 376 new cholera cases had been reported Tuesday, taking the total number of people infected to 1,428 since the first cases were reported last week.

Among the supplies are medications for treating epidemic diseases such as cholera and malaria as well as serums that can be used for any emergency situation.

Residents of Beira are at greatest risk but cases have also been reported in more isolated areas in Mozambique.

Cyclone Idai tore apart the city of Beira on March 14, triggering catastrophic flooding and killing more than 700 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Cholera is spread by contaminated water and food.

The numbers of cholera cases is expected to rise due to the increasing numbers of people reporting to health centres with symptoms, said the WHO in a statement.

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The UN has said the cyclone had displaced about 110,000 people, forcing them to take shelter in camps across central Mozambique.

Officials have warned that the death toll is preliminary and the real figure may never be known as some bodies were buried quickly or swept away by the floodwaters.

A vaccination campaign has been initiated by World Health Organisation and is supposed to start by Wednesday as 900,000 doses of Cholera vaccines are due to arrive in the city.

"The next few weeks are crucial and speed is of the essence if we are to save lives and limit suffering", said Dr Moeti after visiting the region hit by cyclone Idai.

One person has died of cholera, while 97 patients remain in treatment centers, with the others released, Mozambique's health director Ussein Isse announced. UNICEF is ramping up its response to affected children and families in Beira, where thousands of people are affected by Cylcone Idai, the worst natural disaster to hit southern Africa in at least two decades.

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