A worsening cholera outbreak is adding to Mozambique’s woes in the wake of Cyclone Freddy.
According to figures released by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, cited in Medical Express, there were more than 19,000 cases of cholera in the country as of 27 March. The number had doubled in seven days, with cases found in 8 of Mozambique’s 11 provinces.
Flooding brought about by the cyclone has exposed communal wells throughout Mozambique to water contaminated with sewage overflow and other sources of bacteria, spreading the disease. Supplies of chlorine-based water purifiers are running low and distribution is patchy.
Officials in Quelimane, capital of the central coastal province of Zambezia, have been reporting at least 600 cases a day, with 3,200 hospitalisations in the two weeks leading up to 29 March, Medical Express says. There have been at least 31 fatalities.
“A cholera outbreak in a flooded flatland with a very high water table is ‘mission impossible’ to address”, Myrta Kaulard, a UN official in Mozambique, told Associated Press. “Sanitation is a huge problem and the flooding has affected key infrastructure, such as the water pipelines and the electricity supply”.
Meanwhile, with much of the country still underwater, large swarms of mosquitoes are breeding, spreading malaria. Hundreds of cases have been reported around Quelimane.
Lasting more than five weeks, Freddy was the longest-lived cyclone ever recorded, killing 165 people in Mozambique, 17 in Madagascar and 676 in Malawi.
The cyclone hit Mozambique in February and again in March.