General News

Zambia battles cholera outbreak, 60 already killed

Date: Jan 12, 2018

Traders in Zambia's capital say they risk losing their source of livelihood after the government ordered food markets and businesses closed in parts of Lusaka following a cholera outbreak.

Street vending and public gatherings have been banned in the capital to prevent the spread of cholera. At Mtendere, a neighbourhood in the city, food markets and grocery shops remain closed, while police patrol the area to ensure the order is enforced.

Some traders have been trying to defy the order, hoping to make a sale when possible.    A curfew has also been declared in Kanyama, one of the city's informal settlements that will run from between 6pm and 6am.

The cholera outbreak was initially ascribed to contaminated water from shallow wells, but investigations suggest that contaminated food may also be to blame.

"The market is clean, and the minister himself stated even yesterday. He said that the area which is not affected, they should open the market from 10 hours to 18 hours but our market is not opened look at that, what is that? So meaning the minister is not telling the truth. Let him come out and tell us the truth because the market is closed and nothing has been done, and we need to sell and we depend on these things," said Ian Nachoobwe, a trader.

"Business has become slow because of this disease. We reject this disease because this is our source of income. We depend on these businesses to take our children to school. We can't afford to be staying home because we'll just starve. We just want to ensure that the market is clean so we can continue operating as usual," said Beatrice Banda, another trader.

Cholera causes acute watery diarrhoea. It can be treated with oral hydration solutions and antibiotics but spreads rapidly and can kill within hours if not treated. Various treatment centres have been set up to provide health services for those infected.

Cholera has killed at least 67 people since September, 62 of them in the capital alone.

The country on Wednesday (January 10) started vaccinations against the disease targeting 2 million people as the total number of those who have fallen sick since the disease broke out peaked at 2 905.

"After an initial downward trend and the cholera cases started intensifying again in early November, health authorities reached out to WHO for more support including helping with a request for 2 million doses or oral cholera vaccine from the global stockpile.

WHO helped the government put together the plan for this and trained about 500 health and community workers in how to administer the vaccine," said Christian Lindmeier, a The World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman.

Zambia last week shut three of South African retailer Shoprite's Hungry Lion fast-food restaurants after their food tested positive for the bacterium that causes cholera.

Residents in a slum in Zambia's capital held protests on Friday (January 12) over the ban on street vending imposed by the government.




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