Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has dispatched the military to help fight a cholera outbreak, which has killed 41 people in the capital, Lusaka, and affected more than 1,500 others since September.
In a Facebook post late on Friday, Lungu said “all three wings of the Defence Force” had been deployed “to escalate efforts” to minimise the spread of the disease.
“Lusaka has been recording an average of 60 new cases every day. I’ve noted with great sadness that a total of 41 people have died of the disease since its outbreak,” he said.
The outbreak began in two densely populated areas in Lusaka on September 28, but appeared to die down by October 20, the World Health Organization said.
However, the number of cases increased the following month, with a total of 136 cases reported in the week beginning November 26.
The intial outbreak was linked to contaminated water and unsanitary conditions in the affected areas, said Lungu.
But the resurgence in cases was due to consuming contaminated food, mostly from street vendors and markets, he added.
“I am deeply concerned at the rampaging advance of the outbreak,” said Lungu, noting that markets, street stalls and other public places that pose risks could be closed for cleaning and garbage collection.
Cholera is a water-borne disease that causes acute watery diarrhea. The infection is easy to treat with oral rehydration salts, but can kill within hours if unaddressed.
About 100,000 people die every year from cholera.