In Summary
  • The WHO said it was "scaling up its response" to contain the outbreak which it said was "expanding quickly in Harare" -- a city of more than two million people.

  • A WHO situation report revealed that first-line antibiotics were struggling to treat the disease, which has spread to five of the country's 10 provinces.

  • Informal housing areas without running water have mushroomed, and basic infrastructure has collapsed due to years of neglect.

HARARE,

The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe has risen to 25, the government said Thursday as the World Health Organisation warned that the water-borne disease is spreading rapidly in the capital Harare.

"There are now 3,766 cases. The number of deaths is now 25," Health Minister Obadiah Moyo told journalists.

FAST WORK

The WHO said it was "scaling up its response" to contain the outbreak which it said was "expanding quickly in Harare" -- a city of more than two million people.

At least one of the deaths was recorded outside the capital, in the southeast district of Masvingo.

"When cholera strikes a major metropolis such as Harare, we need to work fast to stop the spread of the disease before it gets out of control," Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement.

A WHO situation report revealed that first-line antibiotics were struggling to treat the disease, which has spread to five of the country's 10 provinces.

"There is resistance to the first-line medicine," the report said, with tests suggesting antibiotic drugs ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone could be ineffective and the alternative drug azithromycin was not available.

"Relevant medicines should be purchased as a matter of urgency as soon as resistance patterns have been ascertained," it recommended.

EMERGENCY

The cholera outbreak, first detected in the township of Glen View outside Harare on September 5, prompted the health ministry to declare an emergency in the city.

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