Zimbabwe cholera cases top 83,000, over 3,800 dead

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MOSCOW, February 24 (RIA Novosti) - The number of people infected during Zimbabwe's worst cholera outbreak in more than a decade has topped 83,000, with more than 3,800 deaths, the World Health Organization said.

According to the latest WHO figures, as of February 23, a total of 83,036 cases of cholera, resulting in 3,868 deaths had been detected in the African state since August 2008.

"Difficult accessibility, lack of transport, poor communication systems and decreased clean water availability remain challenges in fighting and controlling the outbreak," the WHO said on its website.

Health experts warn that the infection, which has already been reported in 80.3% of Zimbabwe's territory, could spread further during the ongoing rainy season due to dilapidated water and sanitation infrastructure.

Cholera outbreaks have already been registered in the neighboring South Africa, Botswana Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

A high-ranking WHO delegation held talks on Monday with President Robert Mugabe and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe currently faces record hyperinflation of 231 million percent and 94% unemployment. The extended economic crisis has devastated the healthcare system, leaving the country virtually incapable of dealing with the cholera epidemic.

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