"Zambian Schools Extend Closure by Three Weeks Amid Cholera Outbreak"


Zambia has postponed the start of its school year by three weeks, following a similar move in January 2018, due to an increase in cholera-related deaths in the southern African country.

The reopening of schools has been delayed until at least January 29 as part of efforts to control the outbreak, which has affected 4,097 people and resulted in 150 deaths nationwide since October, according to data from the Zambia National Public Health Institute. The highest daily death toll was recorded on Thursday, with 23 deaths reported, compared to 16 the day before.

Cholera outbreaks have impacted 16 African countries in the past two years, with severe storms and conflicts accelerating the spread of the disease. Cholera, a bacterial infection causing severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea, can be fatal within hours if not treated.

While restrictions on shops, markets, and other public places have not been imposed yet, the government remains focused on prioritizing the safety of school communities, despite concerns about the negative impact of pandemics on the education sector, as stated by Education Minister Douglas Syakalima during a press briefing in Lusaka, the capital, on Thursday.

South Africa’s health department has heightened screening services and education about cholera at land ports of entry following a call from the World Health Organization late last year to enhance surveillance and prevent cross-border transmission.

The department has urged travelers returning from cholera-endemic areas, including Zimbabwe, to remain vigilant for symptoms and cooperate with health officials. Suspected cholera cases will be directed to the nearest health facilities for testing, as stated in a recent departmental statement.

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Piers Potter


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