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Malawi closes schools as cholera outbreak worsens

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SCHOOLS in Malawi’s two largest cities will remain closed until further notice due the recent continuing increase in the number of cholera cases and deaths.

  The students were due to return to classes after vacation on Tuesday.

  But the Health Ministry said that the start of the school term for primary and secondary school students in the capital Lilongwe and the southern city of Blantyre would be delayed by at least two weeks.

  The authorities regretted “any inconvenience caused by this late advice taken solely in the interest of the safety of our students,” it added.

  The impoverished southern African country has recorded nearly 18,000 cases of the disease and 595 deaths since March in what the UN has said is the biggest outbreak to hit the nation in 10 years.

Cholera is contracted from a bacterium that is usually transmitted through contaminated food or water.

  It causes diarrhea and vomiting, and can be especially dangerous for young children.

  On New Year’s Eve, Chiponda renewed calls to religious leaders to encourage followers to seek treatment as some avoided care for religious reasons.

  In September, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that after years of decline, the planet was witnessing a “worrying increase” in cholera outbreaks, with climate change adding to traditional triggers such as poverty and conflict.

Worldwide, the disease affects between 1.3 million and four million people each year, causing up to 143,000 deaths.

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