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Malawi delays school reopening due to deadly cholera outbreak

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Jan 03, 2023 - 02:56 AM

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AA) – Malawi on Monday postponed the reopening of primary and secondary schools in two major cities due to an ongoing cholera outbreak that has claimed nearly 600 lives since last March.

Public and private primary and secondary schools in the capital Lilongwe and commercial hub Blantyre will remain closed for “no less than two more weeks,” Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda said in a statement.

Cholera, an acute diarrheal disease caused by an infection of the intestine, can lead to severe dehydration and death if left untreated.

Malawi’s current outbreak is unprecedented, spreading to districts in central and northern regions that have not had cases in over a decade.

As of Sunday, the country had recorded 17,824 cases and 595 deaths in 28 affected districts.

Blantyre’s tally stood at 2,183 cases and 105 fatalities, while the count in Lilongwe was up to 1,201 cases and 97 deaths.

The decision to keep schools closed in the two cities was taken because of the “worsening cholera situation over the past three weeks,” Dr. Chalamira Nkhoma, head of Malawi’s cholera and COVID-19 task force, told Anadolu Agency.

However, some have questioned the rationale behind the move and called out the government for not being more proactive in its response.

“Cholera cases have been on the rise across the country, not just Lilongwe and Blantyre. Why are we not suspending the reopening of all schools?” said Benedicto Kondowe, an education activist. ​​​​​​​

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