LUSAKA. – Zambia has closed its main passport offices in the capital, a hub which is always thronged with people, as part of measures to curb the spread of cholera which is sweeping the country, the government said.
Street vending and public gatherings have also been banned in Lusaka to counter the disease, which has killed 67 people since September, 62 of them in the capital alone. Home Affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo said the Passports and Citizenship Office in Lusaka would remain closed until further notice.
“In the meantime, officers will only attend to travel emergencies. This is to allow for measures to be put in place to avoid the spread of cholera,” Kampyongo said. On Sunday, Zambia declared a curfew in a poor Lusaka township badly affected by a cholera outbreak to avoid crowding and street vending at night.
The curfew in Kanyama, a densely populated slum of iron-roofed shacks and dirt tracks runs from between 1800hrs and 0600hrs. Zambia on Wednesday started vaccinations against cholera targeting 2 million people as the total number of those who have fallen sick since the disease broke out peaked at 2 905.
The cholera outbreak was initially ascribed to contaminated water from shallow wells, but investigations suggest that contaminated food may also be to blame. President Edgar Lungu on December 30 directed the military to help to fight the spread of the water-borne disease. Cholera causes acute watery diarrhoeic. It can be treated with oral hydration solutions and antibiotics, but spreads rapidly and can kill within hours if not treated.
Meanwhile, as Zambia struggles to contain the cholera outbreak, cases of the disease in Malawi and Tanzania are spreading fear in the southern part of the continent. In neighbouring Malawi and Tanzania, the media has reported cases of malaria and the respective governments are putting in pleasures to protect their citizens.
Malawi24, an online newspaper reported that the Immigration Department says it has set aside strenuous measures on Malawi’s borders to ensure cholera does not spread further in Malawi.
“Immigrants suspected to have been infected are being screened and rendered with treatment,” said the department’s spokesperson Joseph Chauwa. Reports indicate that four people have died due to cholera in Malawi, since the start of the rainy season, while 150 people have been hospitalised. In Tanzania, authorities ordered an indefinite ban on fishing activity in Lake Rukwa, following a cholera outbreak in the area. – Agencies.