Zimbabwe's state newspaper says President Robert Mugabe's cholera denial was sarcasm as the opposition expresses concerns over his remarks about the epidemic that has killed nearly 800 people.

Mugabe declared Thursday that there was "no cholera" in Zimbabwe.

But Friday's Herald newspaper quotes Mugabe's spokesman George Charamaba as saying Mugabe was being sarcastic and that the outbreak had been contained with the help of aid agencies.

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The opposition says Mugabe's remarks were "careless and reckless."

Cholera has spread rapidly in Zimbabwe because of its crumbling health care system and a lack of clean water.

The World Health Organization says that 792 people have died from the disease and 16,700 cholera cases have been reported.