Zambia relaxes restrictions as cholera outbreak slows

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia on Sunday relaxed rules imposed to curb the spread of cholera as the number of new cases being reported has halved, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said.

Schools and some markets will be allowed to re-open, Chilufya told a news conference in Lusaka.

Police arrested 55 people in the capital on Friday after residents rioted over a curfew and ban on street vending.

The outbreak has killed 74 people since Oct. 4, including 68 in Lusaka, Chilufya said.

The number of new cases has fallen to around 80 from 164 a week ago. Of the more than 3,200 cases reported in total, more than 3,000 have been in Lusaka.

All government and private schools will re-open on Jan. 22, but Zambia’s two largest public universities will remain closed for now.

President Edgar Lungu last month directed the military to clean markets and unblock drains 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 Kevin Liffey