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Africa

Cholera outbreak kills 20 in Harare

media Patients await treatment at a makeshift cholera clinic in Harare on Tuesday REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

The Zimbabwe government has declared an emergency in the capital Harare, where an outbreak of cholera has killed 20 people so far. More than 2,000 others have been infected with the disease which causes severe diarrhoea and can lead to dehydration and death if left untreated.

The death toll from this cholera outbreak rose to 20 on Tuesday, from just five reported late last week.

State media says two of those who died were children at a primary school in Harare's western Glen View suburb -- the epicentre of this outbreak.

Twenty other children at the school have been taken ill.

So far more than 2,300 people have been infected with the disease.

It’s believed the outbreak came after borehole water relied on by some residents in Glen View and the neighbouring Budiriro suburb was contaminated by sewage.

Most residents of the capital depend on wells or boreholes as many suburbs haven’t received treated municipal water for years.

Zimbabwe’s new health minister, Obadiah Moyo, who only took his oath of office this week, said the declaration of an emergency would help officials quickly contain the outbreak.

The authorities say isolated cases of cholera have now shown up in another four of the country's 10 provinces.

Memories are still fresh of a cholera epidemic that swept through the country 10 years ago, killing 4,000 people and sickening tens of thousands of others.

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