HARARE (Dispatches) -- Zimbabwe’s police on Wednesday issued a ban on all public gatherings to control the spread of cholera, which has killed 21 people in the capital Harare, a day after the government declared an emergency following the outbreak of the disease.
In a statement, the national police spokeswoman Charity Charamba urged members of the public to take heed of the ban as it would assist in alleviating the spread of cholera, but did not say how long the ban would last.
The main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa had planned to hold a rally on Saturday where he may take a mock presidential oath, three weeks after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated following a court decision upholding his disputed election victory.
Chamisa’s spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda could not comment immediately.
The opposition leader visited clinics where cholera patients were being treated earlier on Wednesday and called for collaboration between city health officials and the government.
The Minister of Health Obadiah Moyo told a meeting of government departments dealing with the outbreak that more than 3,000 people had been infected by cholera and the disease had now spread outside the capital.
This is the biggest cholera outbreak since 2008 when 4,000 people died and more than 40,000 were treated for this disease, according to ministry of health data.
Cholera is a major global health concern: WHO estimates suggest there are up to 4 million cases – and more than 140,000 deaths – each year.
Last year, more than 150,000 cholera cases, and more than 3,000 deaths, were reported in 17 countries in Africa. This year, eight African countries have been dealing with outbreaks.
Algeria recently suffered an outbreak for the first time in more than 20 years. West Africa’s Lake Chad Basin, which includes Nigeria, Niger, Mali and Cameroon, has suffered an abnormal spike in cases since late August.