Nearly 1000 fresh cases of cholera have been reported at Zimbabwe, whose healthcare system was gearing up to face a potential epidemic.
Since the current outbreak began in August, health minister David Parirenyatwa, said 425 people had died and a total of 11,071 suspected cases had been reported nationwide.
AdvertisementThe last estimate from the United Nations on Friday had put the toll at around 9,900 cases.
Parirenyatwa said the health services were trying to contain the disease's alarming spread, but warned that already poor sanitation was likely to worsen with the onset of the rainy season.
"What I am afraid of is that now that the rainy season has come, all the faeces lying in the bushes will be washed into shallow wells and contaminate the water," Parirenyatwa told the government mouthpiece Sunday Mail newspaper.
"Management of water and sanitation is primary to the cholera problem." He emphasised the need for clean water, a proper sewage system and refuse collection, he added.
While cholera has long posed a sporadic problem in rural Zimbabwe, the current epidemic is hitting the nation's cities.
THe movement of people between Zimbabwe's cities was making the disease even harder to contain since it first broke out in the populous neighbourhood of Budiriro in the capital, the minister said.
Cholera is a highly contagious but treatable disease that causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting that can kill a patient.
The disease is easily prevented by washing hands, cleaning foods, and keeping drinking water away from sewage.
But Zimbabwe's dilapidated infrastructure has made clean water a luxury, with many people relying on shallow wells and latrines in their yards.