New Zim cholera toll rises to five

HARARE - Five people have died in Zimbabwe as a new cholera outbreak, which has seen 117 people infected in the past month, continues to spread, officials said yesterday.

HARARE - Five people have died in Zimbabwe as a new cholera outbreak, which has seen 117 people infected in the past month, continues to spread, officials said yesterday.

Last year the worst epidemic in Africa in at least the past 15 years killed 4282 people out of more than 100000 infected, as wrecked health, water and sanitation infrastructure created ideal conditions for the spread of the diarrhoeal pathogen.

The deaths were confirmed by Tstitsi Singizi, spokesperson for the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), which is leading efforts by NGOs to restore clean water and sanitation to vulnerable areas.

Health ministry secretary Gerald Gwinji said the new cases, the first since the end of the last epidemic in June, were reported in the north, east and centre of the country.

The five deaths in the remote north were among members of a fundamentalist Christian sect.

Cholera became endemic for the first time in Zimbabwe's history last year, a situation blamed on years of neglect by President Robert Mugabe's government. Unicef has warned repeatedly that a new outbreak was inevitable with the start of the summer rains. - Sapa-DPA

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