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Lebanon has recorded 653 confirmed cholera cases and 23 deaths to date

Amid vaccine shortages, Lebanon faces its first cholera outbreak in three decades.

Lebanon's recent cholera outbreak began in early October in a refugee camp in Akkar and is likely linked to the cholera outbreak in neighboring Syria.

Meanwhile, the National Litani River Authority reported that the upper basin of the river in southern Lebanon is contaminated with cholera at several points. The cholera contamination of the Litani River is due to the discharge of untreated wastewater.

The International Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision, which manages emergency vaccine supplies, prompted to reduce the recommended two-dose vaccine regimen to a single dose last month. The goal was to stretch the supply and give more people at least some measure of protection.

"This is really an emergency measure — and it's a temporary measure," says Tarik Jašarević, a spokesperson with the World Health Organization. "We hope that the cholera outbreaks will be brought down not only by the vaccines, but also by other measures that we have at our disposal."

Lebanon's caretaker Health Minister Firass Abiad said Wednesday that Lebanon's recent cholera outbreak "is under control."

In a press conference, Abiad said 500,000 people have been vaccinated since a 3-week vaccination campaign began on Nov. 12. Abiad also announced that a second phase of the campaign will start soon and target 295 localities, "in addition to some refugee camps."

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