- Health authorities in Tanzania's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar have lifted a ban on the sale of fresh food after bringing cholera under control, a government official said.
"We have had no patient for the last 14 days," Sultan Mohamed Mugheiry, the minister for health and social welfare, said in Stone Town, capital of the island. "Petty traders can now sell their fresh food on the streets, but must observe health precautions."
Zanzibar authorities had banned vending of food, juices and fruit on stalls along roads and in open-air restaurants, and had also prohibited feasting at festivals, in a bid to control the disease, which broke out in November 2006.
Cholera is a bacterial intestinal infection, transmitted through contaminated food and water. It has a short incubation period, from one to five days, with the main symptom being diarrhoea, which quickly leads to severe dehydration and death if untreated.
Mugheiry said the government had also closed all temporary treatment centres for cholera patients because the outbreak was under control.
Zanzibar, with a population of one million, has been repeatedly hit by cholera epidemics since 1998. In 2006, cholera killed at least 50 people in Unguja and Pemba, the two islands that make up Zanzibar.
The director of information in the health ministry, Omar Suleiman, said 35 people had died of cholera in the latest outbreak, which had affected at least 100 people in the last three months. He blamed the outbreak on poor public hygiene and lack of precautions such as boiling drinking water.
In 2006, health authorities in Zanzibar introduced a system of fining members of the public who failed to observe health hygiene and, so far, at least 80 people had been fined.
"We are determined to ensure that the health laws in the city are implemented," Juma Rajab, an official with the department of preventive services, said.
He said those found guilty had been fined between US$25 and $50, and risked six months’ imprisonment if charged again.
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