Military pulls back in Zambia’s fight against cholera

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Zambia has withdrawn military personnel deployed in December to help clean up the capital and other cities at the height of a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 80 people in seven months, the government said. Reuters Health reports that President Edgar Lungu directed the military to help fight the spread of cholera under emergency measures to contain the waterborne disease, including the closure of markets.

Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo is quoted in the report as saying that the joint operations of the defence and security personnel had helped restore order and Lungu had ordered them to return to barracks. “They accomplished their mission. The commander-in-chief has since directed the defence forces to return to their regular duties,” Kampyongo said. Police will continue with patrols to ensure that vendors did not return to the streets, he said.

The report says Zambia in January relaxed rules imposed to curb the spread of cholera, allowing schools and markets to reopen as the number of new cases being reported had halved.

Cholera is spread by ingesting faecal matter and causes acute watery diarrhoea. It can be treated with oral rehydration solution but the disease spreads rapidly and can kill within hours if not treated.

Reuters Health report

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