Lilongwe, Jan 2 (EFE).- A deadly cholera outbreak, which caused nearly 600 deaths in the last nine months, has delayed the opening of schools after the Christmas break in Malawi, the Malawian health authorities said on Monday.
The closure of primary and secondary schools has affected the African country’s two major cities, Blantyre and Lilongwe. The educational institutions were to reopen after the Christmas holidays on Tuesday.
Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said in a statement that the reopening “will be delayed for no less than two weeks and until further notice” due to the “recent and continuous increase in the number of cases and deaths from cholera.”
The minister urged authorities in other regions of the landlocked southeastern African country to ensure cholera control measures were adhered to for the safety of students.
The measures include vaccination for those who have not yet been inoculated.
The cholera outbreak has claimed at least 595 lives in Malawi since March of this year when the epidemic began in the southern district of Machinga before spreading to other regions of the country.
The factors associated with the cholera outbreak in the communities are poor food hygiene, a lack of safe water, low latrine coverage, and open defecation.
Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by food or water contaminated with the bacterium “Vibrio Cholerae.”
The World Health Organization says the disease remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and a lack of social development.
On Sunday, opposition leader Kondwani Nankhumwa urged President Lazarus Chakwera to declare a “state of national disaster” to stop the outbreak.
At the height of the rainy season, the authorities last month warned communities living near rivers and lakes of the risk of flooding, which could exacerbate the spread of the disease. EFE