MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE - Mozambique's health minister said Friday a cholera outbreak in the area hit by Cyclone Freddy killed eight people this week and hospitalized 250 - part of 600 sickened since the record storm made landfall in February.
Health Minister Armindo Tiago told state-run Radio Mozambique the cholera victims were in the port city of Quelimane, capital of Zambezia province, the area most affected by the cyclone.
Tigao said cholera prevention is focused on 133 centers in the city that are sheltering up to 50,000 people displaced by flooding. He added that more work is needed in other provinces hit by Cyclone Freddy, a record storm that hammered the region since February.
Tiago said everyone must work to control the outbreak by boiling drinking water, cleaning and washing food, and disposing of garbage properly - especially human waste. And, if people have symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting, they must go to health units.
The World Health Organization Wednesday confirmed that Mozambique is seeing a rise in cholera cases, while cases are dropping in neighboring Malawi after a record outbreak.
The WHO said more than 40,000 cases of cholera were reported this year in Africa, more than half of them in Malawi.
Malawi gave out close to 5 million vaccination doses since the outbreak a year ago, but health authorities fear the numbers could spike there and in Mozambique if adequate measures are not taken.
Malawi was hit the hardest by the cyclone, which has weakened to a low-pressure system, leaving hundreds dead and spreading floodwaters could be contaminated with cholera bacteria.
As the cyclone approached the southeast coast of Africa in February, Mozambique vaccinated more than 700,000 people in four provinces deemed at high risk for cholera, but Zambezia province was not among the regions targeted in the WHO-partnered vaccine drive.
Reuters reported Mozambique on Wednesday received approval for an additional 1.3 million cholera vaccine doses to help control the spread.