The number of people who have died in Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak has risen to 1 564 - an increase of almost 50 deaths from the 1 518 reported over the weekend - the United Nations said Monday.
The latest figures, dated December 28, also show that the number of
cholera cases since the start of the outbreak has reached 29 131, World
Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl said.
The WHO said on Saturday that by December 25 1 518 people had died since the start of the outbreak in August. More than two-thirds of the deaths
occurred in December alone.
Not the full extent
Hartl cautioned that the figures may not reflect the full extent of
"Not all districts are reporting," he told The Associated Press. "We
don't know how many cases are out there."
Hartl said the Geneva-based agency is still working on the
assumption that up to 60 000 people could be affected by cholera, a
diarrheal disease spread through contaminated water supplies.
"That's a very broad brush, worst-case scenario if everyone who can
be infected is infected," he said.
Aid agencies have struggled to contain the outbreak since it began
in August. The crumbling state of Zimbabwe's health infrastructure,
poor sanitation and the start of the rainy season have helped carry the
disease to almost all districts of the country.
Last week, the WHO said that neighbouring countries such as South Africa and
Botswana, where the disease has also been reported, should scale up
their disease monitoring and preparedness.
But it counselled against mass vaccination campaigns, which it said
are unproven and could provide a false sense of security.