Zambia declares curfew in Lusaka slum struck by cholera

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia has declared a curfew in a poor Lusaka township badly affected by a cholera outbreak that has killed 58 people across the country since September, the government said on Sunday.

The curfew in Kanyama, a densely populated slum of iron-roofed shacks and winding dirt tracks, begins on Sunday and will run from between 1800 and 0600, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya told reporters. The township has a population of 370,000 people.

Street vending and public gatherings have been banned in Lusaka to prevent the spread of cholera but the residents of Kanyama have been defying this order in the evenings after soldiers deployed to clean the streets have left.

“Kanyama has recorded the highest number of fatalities because of the poor compliance with interventions that have been put in place,” Chilufya said.

The cholera outbreak was initially linked to contaminated water from shallow wells, but investigations indicated that contaminated food was the main culprit.

Zambia last week shut three of South African retailer Shoprite’s Hungry Lion fast-food restaurants after their food tested positive for the bacterium that causes cholera.

Hungry Lion said on Saturday that the restaurants had been closed for disinfection and it hoped that the government would soon allow them to reopen.

President Edgar Lungu on Dec. 30 directed the military to help to fight the spread of the waterborne disease.

Cholera causes acute watery diarrhea. It can be treated with oral hydration solutions and antibiotics but spreads rapidly and can kill within hours if not treated.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Joe Brock and David Goodman