The death toll from a cholera outbreak in Malawi has now surpassed 750, in what is the deadliest such outbreak in two decades.
It began in March 2022 but has become progressively worse, with a death toll of 19 on New Year’s Eve alone.
Since the outbreak began, the country has recorded 22,759 cases. Over 155 people have died in the past 10 days.
The outbreak had previously forced the government to shut down primary and secondary schools in all major cities.
A restriction on pre-cooked food and closures of businesses that failed to meet health standards was implemented on Thursday by health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda.
He said in a statement: “We continue to record rising number of cases across the country, despite signs of reduced transmission and deaths in a few areas.”
Cholera is caused by the consumption of food or water that contains the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. It takes between 12 hours to 5 days after consumption for a person to show symptoms, and it can kill within hours if left untreated.
The onset of the rainy season, as well as the poor drainage system in the country, have been named as the factors exacerbating the situation.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement mentioned that Malawi is one of 31 countries around the world facing a Cholera outbreak.
“While we have had large cholera outbreaks before, we have not seen such a large number of simultaneous outbreaks,” Tedros said.