Malawi suspends opening of schools as cholera cases surge

Students at Waya Primary School in Chimbwi, Malawi. [Photo: Church News]

Health and Education officials in Malawi have suspended primary and secondary schools opening in the capital – Lilongwe and commercial hub – Blantyre following a cholera outbreak that has so far killed 595 people.

The schools which were to open today will remain closed for at least two more weeks.

“Due to the recent and continuing increase in the number of cholera cases and deaths in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe, opening of next school term for primary and secondary schools in the two cities will not start on Jan 3rd as earlier scheduled. The late advice was taken solely in the interest of the safety of our learners.”

The cholera outbreak began in March 2022 with its cases rising lately.

The authorities say 19 people died on New Year’s Eve alone.

They also note that the outbreak has spread to nearly all of Malawi’s 28 districts, with Blantyre and Lilongwe reporting the highest tolls at 105 and 97 deaths respectively.

City councils of Blantyre and Lilongwe have been urged to improve safe water supply, food hygiene, sanitation and cholera vaccination.

Authorities in other districts are also encouraged to step up efforts against the spread of the disease.

Malawi has recorded nearly 18,000 cholera cases and nearly 600 deaths since the onset of the outbreak in March 2022.

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