The number of confirmed cases of cholera in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai battered the country has risen to 1,052 people, the health ministry said late on Monday in a new report.
The steep rise in cases comes after the first five were announced last week, meaning an average of 200 cases of new infections are being documented every day.
The cases threaten to turn into an epidemic less than three weeks after the tropical cyclone made landfall and killed more than 500 people in the country’s central provinces.
Although hundreds have been taken ill with cholera since last week, only one death has been reported so far, tallies compiled by the ministry showed.
A mass vaccination campaign is due to be rolled out on Wednesday as authorities and aid workers are scrambling to avert an epidemic more than two weeks after a devastating cyclone slammed Mozambique.
Some 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccines were due to arrive in the cyclone-battered Beira city on Tuesday, from the global stockpile for emergency, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Vaccination against cholera begins on Wednesday in Beira,” a senior Mozambican health official Ussein Isse said.
The central city of Beira is the worst affected, accounting for 959 out of the total 1,052 cases.
The city of more than half-a-million people recorded 247 cases in 24 hours between Sunday and Monday morning.
Cholera is transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food and causes acute diarrhoea.
The numbers of cholera cases is expected to rise due to the increasing numbers of people reporting to health centres with symptoms, said the WHO in a statement.
“The next few weeks are crucial and speed is of the essence if we are to save lives and limit suffering,” WHO chief for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said in the statement.
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