The Eastern Cape cholera epidemic has spread from its original source of Qingqolo in the former Transkei to the neighbouring Hlabatshane area in Mqanduli, health authorities confirmed on Tuesday.
Shortly after the Qingqolo outbreak in January, cholera was reported at the Ngqeleni and Nonkobe areas.
To date 267 people have contracted the disease while 11 have been confirmed dead.
A nursing sister at the Umtata General Hospital said the institution currently had 13 patients being kept in a special ward for observation.
All 13 patients are from the Qingqolo, Nonkobe and Ngqeleni areas.
Medical experts suspect that the Hlabatshane victims might have contracted the disease after attending a funeral at Qingqolo.
Since Saturday, however, only three people have been treated at Qingqolo, leading to speculation from local doctors that the situation might be under control.
The South African-based head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Welile Shasha, speaking from Pretoria on Tuesday, said he was still awaiting a report from a specialist who was trying to identify the actual source of the epidemic.
It might have originated from KwaZulu-Natal or elsewhere and landed in the Transkei. We need to get that information.
Shasha disagreed with the suggestion that the disease was under control.
If it vanishes here and surfaces elsewhere, especially very close to the original source, it does not mean it's under control.
He also criticised the lack of organisational capacity of the Umtata General Hospital to deal with the cholera problem.
He cited the problem of an ill-equipped laboratory and a shortage of medication supplies.
Source: SAPA, 12 February 2002