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WHO Says Cholera Epidemic Decreasing in Zimbabwe

The World Health Organization says Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives, is slowing significantly.

In a statement Monday, the WHO says 2,076 new cholera cases were reported in the week ending March 14th. That marks a sharp fall from the 3,800 cases reported the previous week and the 8,000 cases a week reported in early February.

The WHO says the death rate from the disease was 2.3 percent in mid-March -- down from six percent in January.

The WHO says the number of cases has decreased in all areas except the capital, Harare, where the number is on the rise.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the official cholera figures are most likely an underestimate. He said many cases go unreported.

Cholera is a bacterial infection that spreads through contaminated water. The epidemic in Zimbabwe is blamed on the collapse of the country's health care system and its poorly maintained water and sanitation systems.

Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government has appealed for international aid to restore basic services and revive the country's shattered economy.