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WHO: Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak still not under control
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15:34, February 14, 2009

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The cholera death toll in Zimbabwe is still increasing, showing that the epidemic is still not under control, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

From Feb. 11 to Feb. 12, 280 new cases and 11 new deaths were reported, and the total number of cases increased to some 73,000 with 3,524 deaths, according to latest figures released by the UN agency.

WHO said the current fatality rate of Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic, which has been spreading since last August, was as high as 4.8 percent.

In order to say that cholera is under control, the fatality rate has to be below 1 percent.

Despite the increasing number of cholera treatment centers opening in Zimbabwe, risks of flooding linked to the current rainy season would make areas difficulty accessible, WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told a news briefing in Geneva.

The lack of food and transportation and the fact that health workers are underpaid are further challenges for the humanitarian community, she said.

Turning to the situation in neighboring countries, Chaib said that in South Africa some 4,800 cholera cases and 34 deaths had been reported between Nov. 15, 2008 and Jan. 20, 2009.

For Mozambique, a total of some 3,600 cases and 25 deaths have been reported. In Angola, 273 cases and one death have been reported. In Zambia, some 3,000 cases and 43 deaths have been reported.

WHO believed that there was a link between the Zimbabwe outbreak and South Africa, and possibly with Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia, Chaib said.

But it is hard to say whether all cases are linked to the Zimbabwe outbreak, as cholera is endemic in Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and parts of South Africa, she added.


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