HAVANA, CMC - Cuban health officials have confirmed 12 new cases of cholera, bringing the total to 170, with eight new suspected cases in the south-eastern province of Granma, where the epidemic reportedly began.
Officials said three people have died in the outbreak that started about two weeks ago.
Epidemiologist Ana Maria Batista said that 27 people were hospitalised over the weekend alone with diarrhoea and vomiting, the key symptoms of the disease.
Batista said more general cases of diarrhoea and vomiting, which spike every summer with the rains and heat, rose from 5,680 on Saturday to 6,002 on Sunday.
Deputy Director of Provincial Transportation José Mendoza González has advised residents to put off unnecessary travel in order to avoid spreading the disease.
Cuban officials have repeatedly assured since early July that the cholera outbreak was under control and that the rising number of confirmed cases was because laboratories need a week or more to confirm a diagnosis of cholera.
But dissidents and independent journalists have alleged that the cholera death toll stands at five to 15.
They have also reported cholera cases in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and other parts of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean island.
Cuba’s Health Ministry said few cases have been reported outside of Granma, but noted that all were people who had been in the province.
The ministry announcement was only the national government’s second comment on the epidemic since July 3, when it confirmed three deaths and 53 cases caused by the bacteria Vibrio Cholerae.
Hundreds of Cuban doctors, nurses and other medical personnel are working in Haiti, where an outbreak of cholera has killed more than 7,000 people since 2010.