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Zimbabwe Declares State of Emergency as Cholera Outbreak Worsens

Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, has been plunged into a state of emergency as a devastating cholera outbreak sweeps through the city. According to BBC, there are over 7,000 suspected cases, and many have died due to this outbreak. 

The city authorities say the outbreak, spreading throughout the city, has invoked memories of a deadly outbreak in 2008, in which thousands died.

"We have declared a state of emergency because of cholera," local media quoted Mayor Ian Makone as saying.

Overwhelmed by the surge in cholera cases, Zimbabwean authorities are urgently seeking international assistance to curb the outbreak's spread and provide safe drinking water to affected communities.

Health authorities have been struggling to contain the high number of admissions following the outbreak, as reported by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). It cites a lack of health workers to manage the cases, as well as a lack of supplies to stop the transmission.

Zimbabwe has been battling the deadly cholera outbreak in recent months amid the scarcity of clean water.

The epicenter of the recent outbreak is the densely populated neighborhood of Kuwadzana in Harare, which is responsible for almost half of the documented cases, as reported by the authorities.

Cholera, an acute diarrhoeal infection is caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

It is treated with an oral rehydration solution, to replace the fluids and salts lost to diarrhea and vomiting.

On Thursday, the Harare mayor said the cholera outbreak had similarities to the 2008 outbreak, which led to the deaths of over 4,000 people. With at least 100,000 infected, many of the basic services in the country were unavailable.

This pushed then- President Robert Mugabe into agreeing to a historic power-sharing deal with his long-time rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. In 2018, the country declared a state of emergency after 20 deaths and more than 2,000 cases related to typhoid and cholera were reported

"The cholera outbreak has come with vengeance," the mayor was quoted as saying on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health announced that the country had recorded 7,398 suspected cases, 50 confirmed deaths, and 109 people in hospital.

It came as the health minister visited the epicenter, announcing measures to deal with the outbreak - including the removal of street food vendors, and trucking of safe water.

The IFRC says the disease is quickly spreading, affecting multiple geographical areas in 45 out of 62 districts and all 10 provinces of the country.

It says the outbreak can be expected to cross the border, into neighboring countries including Malawi, South Africa, and Mozambique have also frequently experienced cholera outbreaks in the past.

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