In much of the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, water was cut because of a shortage of purification chemicals, at a time of a cholera outbreak, The Herald newspaper quotes water authority officials as saying. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
In recent months, at least 425 people have died from cholera, which is spread by contaminated water.
People should stop shaking hands in order to prevent the disease spreading, said health minister David Parirenyatwa.
“I want to stress the issue of shaking hands. Although it’s part of our tradition to shake hands, it’s high time people stopped shaking hands”, he told The Herald.
Since August, more than 11 000 people have been infected with cholera around the country.
Though the disease is endemic in Zimbabwe, this is the worst outbreak since 2000.
The Herald was told by one unnamed official that they were awaiting delivery of the chemicals from South Africa.
Blaming Western sanctions
While several Harare residents have resorted to digging wells in their yards, long queues have formed wherever people are selling water, reports the AFP news agency.
“Today is one of my busiest days. I have sold more than 20 containers since morning”, said water vendor George Munetsi.
The collapse of Zimbabwe’s health and sanitation systems have fuelled the spread of cholera.
Although the disease is easily treatable, hospitals lack medicines and staff.
The government has blamed this on Western sanctions, saying they are aimed at trying to bring down President Robert Mugabe.
However the sanctions imposed after allegations of electoral fraud and political violence are aimed at Mr Mugabe and his close associates. They consist of travel bans and a freeze on their foreign assets.
With just one adult in five estimated to have a regular job and the latest annual inflation rate of 231,000,000%, Zimbabwe is struggling with an economic crisis.