HARARE, December 8 – Zimbabwean authorities have warned residents against shaking hands at weddings and funerals to curb spreading a cholera outbreak which has already claimed nearly 600 lives, state media said Monday.
"People should watch out for weddings, funerals and other social gatherings which are agents of the spread of cholera," Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said on Sunday, according to The Herald newspaper.
"We should avoid shaking hands and uphold high standards of hygiene," he said.
He was speaking when he received a consignment of drugs worth 1.7 million Namibian dollars (165,000 US dollars, 130,000 euros) donated by Namibia to help tackle the cholera outbreak.
The consignment, delivered by Namibian Health Minister Richard Kamwi, included malaria treatment drugs, antibiotics, needles and drips, the Herald said.
Namibia has become the first Southern African Development Community (SADC) country to respond to Zimbabwe’s call for international assistance in fighting the water-borne disease, it said.
A South African official delegation is scheduled to travel to Zimbabwe on Monday to assess how it can aid the nation stricken by a food crisis and cholera outbreak.
Zimbabwe on Wednesday appealed for international aid after declaring the cholera epidemic a national emergency.
Parirenyatwa also spoke against politicising the cholera outbreak.
"Cholera affects everyone and it does not chose between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters," he said, referring to President Robert Mugabe’s party and the Movement for Democratic Change led by his rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
"We should work together to bring the outbreak under control," he said.
The disease has spread to neighbouring countries of South Africa, Mozambique and Botwana.
At least eight people, mostly Zimbabweans, have died of the disease in a hospital in Musina, a South African border town, health officials said.