Mozambican government officials confirmed five cases of cholera in Beira (Mozambique) as of Wednesday, March 27, following the passage of Tropical Cyclone Idai, as health officials warn of the further spread of diseases. Officials have also reported 2700 cases of acute diarrhea. Cholera, malaria, and other water-borne or communicable diseases are the most likely to spread in flooded areas and displacement camps as communities in the region struggle with access to clean water, sanitation, and access to medical supplies. While the cases were confirmed in Beira, cholera may also be present in other areas of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi that are not in contact with health officials and testing equipment. Precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of diseases.
As of March 27, the death toll for Mozambique reached 468 people and more than 250 deaths have been reported in Zimbabwe and Malawi. Hundreds more are missing and approximately 225,000 are displaced. The UN identified at least 1.85 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Massive infrastructure damage has been reported, including destroyed roads and bridges. Transportation services remain limited, though Beira Airport (BEW) was not affected by floodwaters. Power and other telecommunication outages persist throughout the affected areas, along with limited access to food, clean water, and healthcare.
Tropical Cyclone Idai first made landfall in Mozambique on March 4 and moved over southern Malawi, shortly after forming, before moving back over the Mozambique Channel. It then strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane. It made its second landfall near Beira late on Thursday, March 14, and moved inland over central Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, take preventative measures to limit spread of diseases (e.g. only use and drink treated water, take preventative measures against mosquito and insect bites, sleep under mosquito nets, etc.), ensure adequate supplies of food, clean water, and medical supplies, anticipate flooding and associated transportation disruptions, including road closures, limited access to healthcare services and other basic necessities, and remember that floodwater may contain wastewater and chemical products; all items having come into contact with floodwater should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.
Individuals outside the affected areas are advised to postpone nonessential travel.
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