South Africa declares emergency in cholera-hit north


Johannesburg : South Africa Thursday declared the cholera-hit Vhembe region bordering Zimbabwe a disaster area in an attempt to stem the epidemic’s spread from its northern neighbour.

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The provincial government of Limpopo said it hoped to boost its chances to fight the disease with the measure, South African national radio said.

Eight people have died of cholera in the region so far and 664 are infected, an official report said.

“The report indicated that with the massive influx of Zimbabwean nationals, most people are infected with cholera bacteria. To date, no less than 664 people have been treated with cholera and practitioners are gradually finding it difficult to cope with the numbers,” Mogale Nchabeleng, a spokesman of the provincial government, was quoted as saying by South Africa’s SAPA news agency.

The border town of Musina is particularly affected, as many infected Zimbabweans have fled to the town in an attempt to find help.

“The report also indicated that although the situation has been under control, more resources, human and capital, are required if we are to make the necessary impact in our fight against this monster that continues to afflict humanity in this northern part of the province,” Nchabeleng said.

In Zimbabwe about 14,000 people are infected, and 750 have died of the disease so far. Owing to the complete collapse of the country’s public services, which also affects the provision of drinking water and garbage removal, Zimbabwe’s health system is on the brink of collapse.