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Cholera outbreak kills 500 in Congo

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 said more than 500 people have so far died in a cholera epidemic sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Photo credit: AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI / Getty Images

The global health body said in a statement that outbreaks of the water-borne disease occur regularly in Congo, mainly due to poor sanitation and the lack of access to clean drinking water.

It stated that this year’s epidemic, which hit at least 10 urban areas including Kinshasa, was particularly disturbing as about 1.4 million people were displaced by violence in the central Kasai region.

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The WHO said at least 528 people had died and the epidemic had spread to 20 of Congo’s 26 provinces.

It noted that “the risk of spread remains very high toward the Grand Kasai region, where degraded sanitary and security conditions further increase vulnerability in the face of the epidemic.

“So far, health officials have recorded more than 24,000 suspected cases of the disease across the vast nation this year, averaging more than 1,500 new cases per week since the end of July.”

It added that WHO sent a team of experts, including epidemiologists and public health specialists to Congo this month to contain the spread of the disease.

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