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The Ministry of Health in Malawi warned Monday of an increase in the number of cholera cases after the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy, which damaged the sewage systems.
The country was facing the deadliest cholera outbreak ever when a cyclone hit it last week, causing landslides and floods, killing 476 people and displacing nearly half a million people.
More than 30,600 people have contracted cholera since last year and more than 1,700 have died from the infection.
“Because of the floods, people’s toilets have been swept away and most people are unable to get safe drinking water,” said Stern Kabuluzi, Malawi’s director of health services, adding that the country faced an “immediate risk” of a rising number of cholera cases.
The powerful storm killed 579 people in three countries in southern Africa, including Mozambique and Madagascar. Malawi was the worst affected.
“In the face of crisis and chaos, children are the most vulnerable,” warned the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Mohamed Malak Fall.
In neighboring Mozambique, the lack of water and sanitation “is leading to a significant acceleration in the number of cholera cases,” according to UNICEF.
UNICEF indicated that the floods and damage caused by Hurricane Freddie in the two neighboring countries hindered access to health services and other basic services, which will exacerbate the spread of cholera.