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37 die as cholera hits Zimbabwe

Tuesday November 18 2008


HARARE, Tuesday

About 37 people, mostly children, have died of cholera inside two days in southern Zimbabwe as an outbreak that began in the capital Harare spread to other areas.

The latest outbreak in the border town of Beitbridge, one of the busiest inland ports in southern Africa, has been described as the worst ever to hit the crisis-torn country.

The border post is Zimbabwe’s gateway to South Africa and the outbreak of cholera is likely to spark more international concern for the country.

A medical officer at Beitbridge Hospital, Dr Takaitei Kanongara, said 70 people had been quarantined following the deaths that occurred between Sunday and Monday.

Another 431 people had already been admitted at Beitbridge Hospital.


Number to increase

“Most of the admissions were on Sunday afternoon after people had learnt of the outbreak,” Dr Kanongara said. “We expect that number to increase.”

Meanwhile, doctors and nurses demonstrated over the deteriorating health system, outside Parirenyatwa group of hospitals in Harare yesterday. They vowed to stay away from work until the cholera outbreak is controlled

Schools in the town have been temporarily closed while the sale of fruit and vegetables in the open has been banned.

Cholera has killed hundreds of people in Harare since the outbreak began last month.

The government has confirmed that four other regions have been also been battling cholera in Mashonaland East province.

President Robert Mugabe’s government has been accused of trying to cover up the crisis by under reporting the death toll.