First cholera death recorded since cyclone hit Mozambique port, cases double

A woman walks with her children past flooded houses in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Tica near Beira, Mozambique March 31, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra?

MAPUTO (Reuters) – The number of cholera cases has almost doubled in Mozambique in the past 24 hours and the port city of Beira has recorded its first death from the disease since a massive cyclone struck, health chiefs said on Sunday.

Cyclone Idai smashed into Beira on March 14, unleashing catastrophic flooding and killing more than 700 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

The aftermath may prove to be even deadlier with 1.85 million people displaced after entire villages were submerged and households swept away.

“We’ve now registered one death from cholera. The person came here in a very critical condition. The deceased is the first to die from cholera inside our health facilities,” Mozambique’s National Director for Medical Assistance, Ussene Isse, said on public television channel TVN.

Isse said 517 cases of the disease had been reported by Sunday, up from the figure of 271 announced on Saturday.

Cholera is endemic to Mozambique, which has had regular outbreaks over the past five years. About 2,000 people were infected in the last outbreak, which ended in February 2018, according to the WHO.

The scale of the damage to Beira’s water and sanitation infrastructure, coupled with its dense population, have raised fears that another epidemic would be difficult to put down.

Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana

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