Shijal ChudasamaJanuary 2, 2023

Malawi keeps its schools closed as cholera cases rise.

Malawi keeps its schools closed as cholera cases rise.

While cholera is a yearly issue in Malawi from November to March, this outbreak is anticipated to be the worst yet.

The health minister announced on Monday that Malawi has postponed the opening of public schools in its two largest cities, Blantyre and Lilongwe, in an effort to reduce an increase in cholera mortality.

Since cases were initially reported in March, the overall number of illnesses has increased to 17,824 and the death toll to 595, with the fatality rate rising to 3.34 percent, according to the Ministry of Health.

When it rains in Malawi from November to March, cholera is an issue every year, resulting in about 100 fatalities annually. But it's anticipated that this epidemic will be the deadliest yet.

Primary and secondary schools in Blantyre and Lilongwe will not open on January 3 as previously scheduled, according to a statement from Health Minister Khumbize Chiponda. "Due to the ongoing increase of cholera cases and deaths in the towns of Blantyre and Lilongwe," the statement continued.

Later, she promised, a new reopening date would be disclosed.

According to the UN health agency, death rates are growing in nearly 30 of the nations that reported cholera outbreaks in 2022, which is about a third more than in an average year.

Cholera can cause severe diarrhea and is spread by tainted food or water. Many people only have minor symptoms, but if left untreated, it can be fatal within hours.

In Malawi, victims include doctors who work in public health facilities.

Chiponda urged authorities to tighten control efforts, including speeding up immunizations and using chlorine to sanitize crowded areas like marketplaces and schools.

Malawi keeps schools shut as cholera deaths surge
Pilirani Wanja, a clinician at Ndirande Health Centre, demonstrates to clients how to take the cholera vaccine in response to the latest cholera outbreak in Blantyre, Malawi on November 16, 2022 [Eldson Chagara/Reuters]
Malawi keeps schools shut as cholera deaths surge
Malawi keeps schools shut as cholera deaths surge
The letters "Protect yourself and your family from Cholera" can be seen on a banner at the health station of the International Rescue Committee in Ganyliel, Unity, South Sudan, 25 March 2017. On the right corner a bucket of desinfectant can be seen. Cholera is easily transmittable. Photo: Jürgen Bätz/dpa (Photo by Jürgen Bätz/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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