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New Cholera outbreak kills 36 in Zimbabwe
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A new cholera outbreak has hit Beitbridge, a city in southern Zimbabwe bordering South Africa, killing 36 people and resulting in the hospitalization of 431, the daily newspaper The Herald said on Tuesday.

The cholera outbreak came after the disease has claimed 37 lives in the country's capital city of Harare over the last two weeks.

The outbreak in Harare has now abated with slightly improved water supplies and a major clean-up, The Herald said.

Beitbridge medical officer Taikaitei Kanongara confirmed 36 deaths between Friday and Saturday, saying that Beitbridge General Hospital has been designated as a cholera treatment center and 431 people have already been admitted at the hospital.

"Most of the admissions were on Sunday afternoon after people had learnt of the outbreak. We expect that number to increase," Dr Kanongara said.

Health officials were yet to establish the source of the disease, first reported on Friday night, but measures to contain its spread have already been put in place.

Dr Kanongara said schools in the town have been closed temporarily while sale of fruit and vegetables in the open has been banned.

According to preliminary findings, the outbreak could have been caused by fruit such as mangoes and loquats (mazhanje) brought into the border town for sale, said Dr Kanongara.

He also said poor sanitary facilities, intermittent water supplies, flies and poor refuse management could have contributed immensely to the outbreak.

His staff were working on contingency measures to combat the disease and have since notified the Civil Protection Unit.

The district had so far mobilized equipment and material with the support of non-governmental organizations. More resources and manpower have been mobilized from neighboring districts while disinfecting teams are fumigating infected homes in the town.

Dr Kanongara urged people in the border town to seek medical attention as soon as they suspected that they had the contracted the disease.

Officer Commanding Beitbridge Chief Superintendent Nicholas Mawere said police would continue to arrest illegal vendors and mount roadblocks on all roads leading into the town.

Meanwhile, in Harare Zimbabwe National Water Authority appears to be trying to spread treated water more equitably between its suburbs, although some that were used to receiving regular supplies have gone without for days.

As efforts to contain the outbreak intensify, Harare City Council on Sunday started removing rubbish at some shopping centers in the city.

A health official at a clinic designated cholera treatment center said the number of people being admitted with cholera had eased over the weekend, which he attributed to better information.

Harare City Council would open an office to receive donations to assist cholera victims in the city.

(Xinhua News Agency November 18, 2008)

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