Lusaka, Jan 18 (EFE).- A cholera outbreak has killed at least 462 people in Zambia since October, making it one of the deadliest outbreaks in the southern African country, the nation’s Health Minister said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference, Sylvia Masebo revealed that the ministry has documented over 10,000 cases of the infectious disease in the country, with the capital, Lusaka, accounting for over 90% of them.
“As a government, we are tirelessly working to control this disease,” Masebo stated, urging the public to adhere to stringent hygiene practices at both personal and community levels.
In the last 24 hours, the illness has claimed the lives of 20 people in the county, as per official data.
The minister highlighted that a significant challenge leading to deaths was that many patients were being transferred to health facilities “when it’s too late.”
“When you have a member of your family vomitting or having diarrhea, don’t waste time; just rush them to the nearest facility. When you keep somebody 24 hours and you bring them after that it is a bit too late,” she said.
The National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka has been turned into an isolation center, receiving patients from various parts of the country.
“It took me almost a week to locate my husband, who was transferred from Chingwele (a clinic in Lusaka) to the stadium. I only found out that he died three days ago and has already been buried,” Lillian Tembo told EFE.
To contain the outbreak, the government has ordered the closure of all schools, colleges, and universities until the end of January.
Restrictions have also been imposed on public events, including reduced hours for religious services.
Critics have accused the government of a slow response to the outbreak since its eruption in October, focusing only on public awareness campaigns to promote hygiene.
According to the Zambia National Public Health Institute, the last cholera outbreak in the country occurred in 2018, claiming about 200 lives and infecting nearly 6,000 people.
Neighboring Zimbabwe has also reported at least 400 cholera-related deaths and 18,000 suspected cases of the disease since last September.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 13 countries in eastern and southern Africa have been grappling with one of the worst cholera outbreaks in years, resulting in 3,000 deaths and infecting over 200,000 people across the region.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacterium “Vibrio Cholerae.”
According to the World Health Organization, cholera remains a “global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.” EFE