PRETORIA-- South Africa is on the alert for a possible cholera outbreak, says Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who adds that he is worried about the outbreak in neighbouring Zimbabwe, where it has killed 30 people and infected 4,000 more.

Zimbabwe is battling its deadliest cholera epidemic in a decade as aid agencies deploy more volunteers to assist. Police have banned public gatherings and removed street vendors from the capital, Harare.

In 2008, Zimbabwe suffered its biggest cholera outbreak at the height of an economic crisis. Sanctions from the international community made it difficult to bring aid into the country. Ten years later, officials are desperate to avoid a repeat as the death toll climbs to 30.

The government has introduced new antibiotics after the cholera strain was found to be resistant to some drugs. At least 4,000 people are infected.

I'm experiencing a runny stomach with vomiting, I'm very weak with a headache, and I'm also bleeding, said cholera patient Eustine Mabika.

National and local politicians are trading blame over the government's failure to maintain safe water supplies and infrastructure.The country has been forced to declare a health emergency.

Meanwhile, Matoaledi said Monday that South Africa is on high alert, noting that movements across the two countries' common border made South Africa vulnerable to the outbreak in Zimbabwe spreading into this country.

Not yet, but we are expecting that very soon with the movement of people and migration of people, we are on tenterhooks and I must say we are worried, but no case has been reported yet, said Motsoaledi.

The crisis is a test for the government of newly elected Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is under pressure to rebuild the country. For many residents of Harare, the threat of cholera remains high, amid signs the disease could spread outside the capital.

The borehole that we have been using has been closed down, leaving us with no source of fresh water. We have no choice, but we might end up looking for water in those affected areas and that way it will be difficult to prevent more deaths, says a resident, Janet Chari.

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube's attempt to raise funds on social media sparked a backlash with some users condemning the plan as an insult to taxpayers.

The 2008 cholera outbreak killed 4,000 people, while 40,000 were treated for infections.


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