Authorities have announced that some restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of cholera in Lusaka have been eased since Sunday, January 14. Some markets in the city have been reopened although a number remain closed, including in the Kanyama area. The Health Ministry has announced that Lusaka’s international school would reopen on January 16 and that government schools would be inspected on January 23, after which a decision regarding their eventual re-opening would be announced.
Nevertheless, additional cases of cholera are expected in Lusaka and other regions of Zambia in the coming weeks; the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the spread may accelerate as the rainy season progresses.
Protests to denounce the closed markets are possible in the coming days, notably in Kanyama.
The ongoing cholera outbreak has infected 3148 nationwide and left 72 dead across the country since September. The capital has been particularly hard hit by the outbreak, notably the areas of Kanyama, Chelston, Chilenje, Matero, Bauleni, Chawama, and Chipata. All public gatherings have been banned. The Zambian Ministry of Health has closed several restaurants, buried shallow wells, and expanded access to potable water in Lusaka; furthermore, street food vendors and public gatherings have been banned in the city. Finally, a curfew been has in effect since January 7 in Kanyama, an impoverished township of the capital Lusaka; the nightly curfew will run from 18:00 to 06:00 (local time) until further notice.
Cholera is an infectious disease caused by Vibrio cholerae bacteria that can induce acute diarrhea. The risk of death is greatest among people with compromised immune systems, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, cholera can be fatal within a matter of hours. There are frequent outbreaks of cholera in Zambia during the rainy season due to contaminated water, poor sanitation, and overcrowded slums. Zambia's worst cholera outbreak in 2010 affected 4500 people and resulted in 120 deaths.
To reduce the risk of contracting cholera, wash hands regularly, drink only bottled or purified water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods. Individuals who believe they may have contracted cholera should seek immediate medical attention.
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