1st cholera cases confirmed in Mozambique's cyclone-hit city

2019-03-27 13:40

The first cases of cholera have been confirmed in the cyclone-ravaged city of Beira, Mozambican authorities announced on Wednesday, raising the stakes in an already desperate fight to help hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in increasingly squalid conditions.

The five cholera cases were confirmed in Munhava, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the hard-hit port city of Beira, the national director of medical assistance, Ussene Isse, told reporters.

PICS: Zimbabwe economic crisis drives cross-border cargo shuttles from South Africa

The city of some 500 000 people is still struggling to provide clean water and sanitation after Cyclone Idai roared in on March 14.

Cholera is a major concern for cyclone survivors now living in crowded camps, schools, churches and any land exposed by the still-draining flood waters.

The disease is spread by contaminated food and water and can kill within hours.

'Second disaster'

The World Health Organization has warned of a "second disaster" if waterborne diseases like cholera spread in the devastated region.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was to address the nation on Wednesday afternoon about how his government is responding to the cyclone, which has killed more than 460 people in his country and left 1.8 million people in need of urgent help.

Nyusi early last week estimated that 1 000 people had been killed after he flew over the vast, flooded plains of central Mozambique.

The toll could be higher, said some emergency responders, who said that more bodies will be found as floodwaters drain away. They said the actual figure of dead may never be known.

Health workers were opening clinics across Beira, the centre of relief operations for the region.

Some people in the city have resorted to drinking stagnant water by the side of the road, increasing the chances of diarrhoea, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said. Other people are drinking from contaminated wells.

The aid group said it has seen hundreds of cases of acute watery diarrhoea in the past few days.

"The scale of extreme damage will likely lead to a dramatic increase of waterborne diseases, skin infections, respiratory tract infections and malaria in the coming days and weeks," said Gert Verdonck, the group's emergency co-ordinator in Beira.

Rural communities

Hurried efforts continued to restore running water to Beira.

The United Nations children's agency said parts of the city's water supply system were working again, with "water running in 60% of the pipes". The government also was operating water trucks.

Relief operations continued to explore ways to deliver aid to the city that remains largely reachable only by air and sea. More challenging was reaching rural communities, some of them still without contact with the outside world.

More humanitarian actors arrived as the United Nations urges the international community to fund a $282m emergency appeal for the next three months.

The UN refugee agency announced that its first aid flight had landed in the capital, Maputo, with plans to immediately transport the tents, mosquito nets and other items to Beira.

Two other flights are planned for Zimbabwe and Malawi this week.

The death toll in Mozambique is now at least 468, with 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    mozambique  |  southern africa  |  cyclone idai
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.