Picture: SOWETAN
Picture: SOWETAN

A riot broke out in a slum in Zambia’s capital that authorities say is the epicentre of a cholera outbreak that’s still claiming lives.

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who burned tires in the Lusaka neighbourhood of Kanyama, where authorities closed businesses to try to curb the spread of the disease, police spokesperson Esther Katongo said by text message.

The epidemic has killed 70 people and the reported number of infections has climbed to 3,077 since the outbreak started in October, health ministry permanent secretary Kennedy Malama told reporters in Lusaka Friday.

The Southern African nation closed markets, schools and colleges at the start of the year and called in the army to help tackle the outbreak. Supermarkets owned by Pick n Pay Stores and fast-food shops operating under the Shoprite Holding’s Hungry Lion brand had to be closed, but some have since re-opened.

On Sunday, health minister Chitalu Chilufya imposed a seven-day curfew on Kanyama prohibiting people from entering or leaving the area from 6pm to 6am to prevent night-time trading.