Cholera reports come in from Mozambique in cyclone aftermath

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Fourteen cholera cases have been confirmed in northern Mozambique following floods caused by a powerful cyclone that battered the country last week, provincial authorities say.

The city of Pemba registered 11 cases of the disease, while the neighbouring district of Mecufi had three.

“We were already prepared for that; the health care sector has been on the alert since Cyclone Kenneth started,” the provincial health director, Anastacia Lidimo, told reporters.

Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in northern Cabo Delgado province on April 25, packing winds up to 220 km/h. It struck a region that has not experienced a tropical cyclone in the modern era. More than 40 people died; estimates are that some 226 000 have been affected by the storm, thousands of homes were destroyed and water supply systems have been laid to waste.

It was the second major storm to hit Mozambique in six weeks. Cyclone Idai earlier struck the port city of Beira, 1 000 km to the south, causing flooding and more than 600 deaths. In Beira, Mozambique administered nearly 900 000 doses of oral cholera vaccines after Cyclone Idai to avert an epidemic. At least four deaths from cholera were recorded in Beira and surrounding districts. Almost 5 000 cases of cholera were reported.

Cholera is transmitted through contaminated drinking water or food and it causes acute diarrhea.

According to the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA, the city of Pemba, home to  200 000 people and the capital of Cabo Delgado province, is in one of the most cholera-endemic regions in Mozambique.