- The government of Mozambique says it is on "maximum alert" as the heavy cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe is closing in on the country. Cholera has already spread into South Africa and Malawi.
Close to 600 persons have already died of cholera in Zimbabwe, where the collapsed economy and sanitary systems are hindering an effective fighting of the waterborne disease. The government of Zimbabwe today finally issued an international alert, asking for foreign assistance to fight back cholera.
Meanwhile, the epidemic has spread into neighbouring countries. In the north of South Africa, cholera has already spread from Zimbabwean immigrants to locals, but local authorities claim to be in control. Also Malawi this week announced the first cases of cholera.
In Mozambique, unconfirmed cases of cholera have been reported by local media in the Changara district of Tete Province, a region that is located between Zimbabwe and Malawi. According to the independent daily 'O Pais', more than 150 cases of cholera had been found in Tete, mostly among Zimbabweans. Health authorities had reacted promptly, 'O Pais' reported, saying this had hindered a further spread and any deaths.
Mozambican Health Minister Ivo Garrido in an interview with the state-owned news agency 'AIM' today said authorities were on "maximum alert" and already actively involved in the fight against a cholera outbreak in the country. The Ministry had been alerted by the proximity of the outbreaks in Zimbabwe and Malawi, but also by reports from South African authorities.
According to tests made by South African health authorities, cholera bacteria are now found in the Limpopo River. The Limpopo constitutes the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa in one of the most cholera affected areas, from where it runs into Mozambique and into the Indian Ocean north of Maputo.
Minister Garrido in the interview also said that health teams had been dispatched to the provinces bordering on Zimbabwe - Gaza, Manica and Tete - to start anti-cholera operations. Since the news of an outbreak in Malawi, further teams had been dispatched in areas bordering Malawi, including Zambezia and Niassa provinces.
Contrasting South Africa and Malawi, Mozambique is a country frequently plagued by cholera outbreaks, although not of the size as the current one in Zimbabwe. Only in October, there was a cholera outbreak in the inland province of Manica bordering Zimbabwe, which claimed 60 lives.
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