Nigeria faces rising cholera outbreak amidst COVID-19 pandemic

The populous nation still grapples with effects of the third wave coupled with inadequate vaccine supply.

One of Nigeria's worst cholera outbreaks in years is currently underway, with more than 2,300 people dying from suspected cases as the country struggles to deal with its impact alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Nigeria CDC as of 5th September, a total of 69,925 suspected cholera infections were recorded in 25 of the country's 36 states and the capital Abuja. At least 2,323 have died linked to the disease this year, but there are concerns that might be an undercount given that many affected communities are in hard-to-reach areas. Currently, children aged 5 to 14 are the most affected age group, with a case fatality rate of 3.3 percent, more than double that of the pandemic’s fatality rate of 1.3 percent in Nigeria.

Cholera is endemic and seasonal in Nigeria, where only 14% of the population of more than 200 million people have access to safely managed drinking water supply services, according to government data from 2020. States in Nigeria's north where flooding and poor sanitation increase the risk of transmission are the hardest hit by the resurgence in cholera infections. Moreover, the country is still facing a third wave of the pandemic mainly driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, and authorities are intensifying efforts to vaccinate a population among whom less than 1% have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. To date, the virus has killed more than 2,619 people and infected around 199,538 in Nigeria according to data retrieved from the Africa CDC.