Cholera outbreak in the Democractic Republic of Congo waning

A cholera outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo appears to be exhausting itself in the worst-affected areas, but new cases are being reported in other regions.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the outbreak, which has infected thousands, is nearly over in the province of Equateur. There have been no new reports of cases from the province in the last three weeks.

A U.N. committee decided to close a dedicated cholera treatment center in Mbandaka, the provincial capital, this month and has already found a hospital in the same city to house a special treatment unit to deal with further cases.

OCHA warned, however, that 15 zones within the province remain under surveillance by health officials.

Although Bandundu, Eastern provinces and the capital of Kinshasa have also been affected by the outbreak, Equateur was hardest hit. Over 165 deaths were reported and over 3,000 cases of cholera have been confirmed.

In Kinshasa, new cases are still being recorded. There have been 13 deaths from the illness in the last three weeks. Alarmingly, 351 new infections have been identified. Many of Kinshasa's eight million residents live in poor hygienic conditions and the city houses a base for river craft to other provinces that have been affected by the outbreak.

The province of South Kivu, in the country's far east, has also seen a recent rise in infections. Seventy new cases were registered between December 19 and December 25.

At least 575 Congolese have died during the outbreak and more than 21,500 cholera cases have been recorded.