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Cholera death toll passes one thousand, UN says

Latest update : 2008-12-19

The death toll in a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has reached more than 1,000, according to the latest United Nations figures. The world body warns the epidemic is likely to spread, with another 20,581 cases suspected.

AFP - The death toll from cholera in Zimbabwe has passed 1,000 and the epidemic is continuing to spread, the United Nations said Thursday.  

Latest figures from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded 1,111 deaths and 20,581 suspected cases.

"The devastating cholera epidemic continues to spread, with a new outbreak in Chegutu Urban, recording more than 378 suspected cases and 121 deaths," said an OCHA statement. Chegutu is a region neighbouring the capital Harare.

Harare remained the worst-hit area, with 224 people killed by the disease and 9,072 thought to be suffering from it.

Almost three-quarters of the cases in the capital came from the last two weeks, added OCHA, underlining the "intense" cholera transmission rate in the city.

Overall, nine out of 10 provinces in the country have reported cases.

Citing the World Health Organization's assessment of the situation, the OCHA said the major causes for the outbreak included the lack of drinking water and sanitation.

But a health staff strike was not helping the situation, it added.

Health personnel had been unable to get their wages from the banks because of a shortage of banknotes, "making it too burdensome and expensive to travel to work," explained OCHA.

Beyond Zimbabwe, cholera has also been reported in the rest of the southern African region, with South Africa recording 11 deaths. Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia have also reported cases, although in smaller numbers, said OCHA.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has come under increasing pressure from world leaders to resign following a deadlock over a power-sharing deal, economic ruin and the widening cholera epidemic.
 

Date created : 2008-12-18