Maputo — According to the Mozambican health authorities, 517 cases of cholera were diagnosed over the weekend in the central province of Sofala, mostly in the cyclone-devastated city of Beira.
Of these cases, 246 were diagnosed in the 24 hours from 29 to 30 March, and 271 in the following 24 hours, according to a report in the independent daily "O Pais". One of those diagnosed, a one year old child, died.
The figures refer to patients diagnosed in Beira, and in the districts of Dondo and Nhamatanda. Seven centres to treat cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases are now operating in Sofala, as well as ten field hospitals in Beira, Dondo, Nhamatanda and Buzi.
At a Sunday press conference in Beira, the National Director of Medical Care, Ussene Issa, announced that the promised cholera vaccination campaign will begin on Wednesday. It is hoped to vaccinate 880,000 people in Beira, Dondo, Buzi and Nhamatanda.
Ilesh Jani, director of the National Health Institute, said the vaccine, approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is administered orally to people over one year of age. It has an estimated effectiveness of 80 per cent.
Issa urged citizens to seek medical care as soon as they note possible symptoms of cholera (diarrhoea and vomiting). He said the child who died had reached the health unit in a very weak and dehydrated condition, after losing a great deal of fluid. He feared that other deaths may have occurred outside of the hospitals.
The authorities have updated the number of confirmed deaths from cyclone Idai and the subsequent flooding to 501. 847,723 people (equivalent to 169,734 households) are affected. Humanitarian aid is reaching the cyclone and flood victims through more than 150 accommodation centres..
The bulk of these are in Sofala, where there are 116 centres, catering for 109,702 people. In Manica there are 21 centres, where 14,047 people are living. In Zambezia, 13 centres were set up, where 13,203 people have taken shelter, and in Tete 2,655 people are receiving aid at five centres.
The cyclone destroyed 3,318 classrooms, affecting almost 100,000 pupils. In many schools, classes have resumed, but face great difficulties. The government has ordered the reprinting of school test and exercise books. An estimated 700,000 text books were lost to the floods.
53 health units in the affected areas were damage, and 669,903 hectares of crops were inundated.
The search and rescue phase of the post-cyclone phase has concluded, and the Mozambican relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), has switched is priorities to humanitarian assistance for the affected, to carrying out an exhaustive survey of the damage and of the needs, and to restoring basic services, such as water and electricity supplies, roads and communications.
The INGC is using drones to map the affected areas, and identify areas most at risk from water-borne diseases such as cholera.