Zimbabwe's cholera death toll tops 2,200: UN

The cholera outbreak affecting most of Zimbabwe has killed 2,225 people and is spreading out of control, a United Nations agency said Friday.

Bank to issue $100 trillion notes

The cholera outbreak affecting most of Zimbabwe has killed 2,225 people and is spreading out of control, a United Nations agency said Friday.

The news came as Zimbabwe's central bank revealed it will issue a new series of banknotes up to $100 trillion in Zimbabwean dollars as it struggles to keep up with hyperinflation, according to the state-run media.

Reuters estimated the bill is worth about $33 US on the black market.

Only four days ago, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced it would be printing new $50-billion notes.

Zimbabwe's economic collapse has caused infrastructure to crumble, allowing the cholera outbreak that began last August to continue its spread as residents are left without clean water and prompt medical help.

The UN says about 1,550 new cases are reported every day, with a total of 42,675 people affected to date.

Cholera outbreaks are common in developing countries but don't typically kill more than one per cent of people infected. The UN World Health Organization estimates Zimbabwe's fatality rate is around five per cent.

Meeting Mugabe

UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman toured a hospital Friday where victims of the waterborne disease were receiving international help. She was also scheduled to meet Friday with President Robert Mugabe, but no details of the meeting were released.

After touring a hospital in the crowded Harare neighbourhood of Budiriro, Veneman praised health workers who had been travelling around Budiriro on bicycle to distribute water purification tablets and offer hygiene advice.

"We shall keep working until we have managed to eradicate and control the disease together," she said.

The international body said it is supporting 172 cholera treatment centres throughout the country.

The UN warned in a press release that it looks as if Zimbabwe's food security is "becoming increasingly difficult as the lean season sets in."

Cholera is caused by contaminated food or water. It has affected residents in almost all parts of the country, according to the WHO, with about half of the cases in Harare, the capital.

A power-sharing dispute has kept politicians from addressing root causes of the country's collapse.

Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are expected to meet Monday to try to resolve the months-long impasse that has kept them from forming a unity government.

With files from the Associated Press