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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 20:27 GMT
Cholera in South Africa spreads
Map showing cholera spread in South Africa
Five of South Africa's nine provinces have now reported cases of cholera.

The country's department of health announced on Friday that there have been 64 deaths and nearly 18,000 infections since the outbreak began last August.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had already warned that cholera could spread as people travelled back home after spending their holidays in KwaZulu-Natal province. It was there where this latest outbreak began.

But in Mpumulanga province, only one of the 27 cholera cases could be traced to KwaZulu-Natal.

The rate of infection has increased dramatically with the onset of the rainy season.

Health education

Ministers from three separate government departments held talks with officials from the WHO at the beginning of January, in an attempt to find ways to contain the spread of the disease.

Following the meeting, the government said it would release extra funds to improve sanitation in the KwaZulu-Natal area and to pay for a wide-ranging public health campaign.

For its part, the WHO has promised to bring in experts to provide advice on how to prevent the spread of the disease.

The government has described cholera as a disease of poverty, and it is the poorest who are most at risk - particularly those who live in underdeveloped rural areas and rely on rivers and streams for their drinking water.

But critics have accused the government of exacerbating the problem by introducing charges for access to clean water - a move that has prompted some people to try to save money by getting their water from contaminated sources.

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09 Jan 01 | Africa
Mozambique cholera deaths mount
02 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Cholera's genetic secrets revealed
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