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Malawi: Deadliest Cholera Outbreak Crosses 1,300 Deaths

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The cholera outbreak in the southern African country, Malawi, has crossed the death toll of 1,300, a senior Malawian health official said on Thursday, as the country is fighting against its deadliest outbreak by far.

The outbreak began in March 2022 and as of Wednesday, the country had 40,284 registered cholera cases and 1,316 deaths, while the country estimating an average of over 500 cases per day, Charles Mwansambo said in a dialogue organised by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Africa office.

Cholera outbreaks often happen in Malawi, typically during the rainy season from November to March, estimating an annual death toll of 100 on an average.

In a statement, WHO said on Thursday that the country’s present outbreak was recorded as the deadliest one yet, worse than the outbreak that occurred in 1998/99 and 2001/02 that recorded 860 and 968 deaths respectively.

Malawi carried out two oral cholera vaccination programmes, but a global rise in cholera outbreaks indicates a shortage in vaccine supplies.

African countries that have reported cholera cases include Mozambique and Zambia, Malawi’s neighbouring countries.

In East Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are tackling the surge amid a prolonged drought, while in West and Central Africa cases have been reported in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.

South Africa recorded two imported cases on Sunday from Malawi, with the husband of one of the first two cases testing positive.

Cholera is a disease that spreads by the contamination of food and water and can lead to severe diarrhoea. While most people show mild symptoms, if remained unattended it can kill within hours.

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