12 September 2018

Zimbabwe Bans Public Gatherings As Cholera Escalates

Photo: Innocent Makawa/The Herald
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is briefed by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo, centre, while Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima looks on during a tour at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital in Mbare, Harare.

At least 21 people have died in and around the capital, Harare, and hundreds more have fallen ill. The ban comes ahead of a planned rally led by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Public gatherings were banned in Zimbabwe's capital of Harare on Wednesday after a cholera outbreak claimed the lives of 21 people and left hundreds of others ill in just one week.

The Health Ministry has declared a state of emergency in the city.

"The Zimbabwe Republic Police is appealing to members of the public to take heed of the warning and cooperate as this will assist in alleviating the continuous spread of cholera," said police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo told the press on Tuesday that [they] are now at 3,067 cases... [and that] the number of deaths has risen to 21.

The ban on public gatherings come ahead of a rally planned by the opposition MDC party, which was set to be held on Saturday. MDC had planned to stage a mock inauguration for their leader Nelson Chamisa, who they say was denied his victory due to vote suppression in the country's July 30 elections.

After touring a clinic, Chamisa called on the United Nations for aid: "It's more than just an emergency; it is a national disaster."

In the nation's worst cholera outbreak in 2008, around 4,000 people perished and some 100,000 fell ill.

Zimbabwe is still reeling from the political upheaval of last year, which saw long-time strongman Robert Mugabe ousted in favor of his former deputy-turned-rival Emmerson Mnangagwa. President Mnangagwa has pledged to boost public services, including healthcare.

(AFP, AP)

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