Mozambique races to contain cholera cases

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Mozambican and international health workers are in a race 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.

One person has died of cholera, while 97 patients remain in treatment centers, with the others released, Mozambique’s health director Ussein Isse announced. The new figures are an indication that cholera is spreading but is being brought under control, health workers say.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said there is also a high risk of the spread of infectious diseases including those caused by insects like mosquitoes, with 276 malaria cases also reported in cyclone-affected areas.

The U.N is in the process of setting up 11 treatment centers in Mozambique.

The overall cyclone death toll in Mozambique has risen to 518. With 259 deaths in Zimbabwe and 56 in Malawi, the three-nation death toll from Cyclone Idai now stands at more than 830.

Dujarric said more than 140,000 people in Mozambique are sheltering in 161 sites, including schools and community centers.

He said 11 emergency treatment centers for cholera victims have been established in Beira and other locations and nine are operational.

Mozambican workers have restored clean tap water to parts of Beira, a city of 500,000, although large areas of the urban center still don’t have access to sanitary water.

More than two weeks after the cyclone hit Beira and swept across central Mozambique, about 98,000 people are in camps for displaced and “living under canvas,” he said.

“Cholera is our most immediate challenge,” World Health Organization’s team leader in Beira David Wightwick said adding that getting adequate nutrition to the population and battling other diseases like malaria are also priorities.

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