GOVERNMENT has declared the cholera outbreak in Harare a state of emergency and ordered the closure of a primary school in Glen View as the death toll from the waterborne disease rose to over 20, while over 2 000 residents have been hospitalised since last week.
BY VANESSA GONYE/ TATENDA CHITAGU/REX MPHISA
Suspected cholera patients admitted to Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital in Mbare, Harare, yesterday
Health minister Obadiah Moyo yesterday announced the emergency as the outbreak spread to other city suburbs and other parts of the country, including Chitungwiza as well as Midlands, Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland Central provinces.
“Numbers are growing by the day. As of today (yesterday), the death toll is at 20, while we have more than 2 000 cases reported by the three referral centres in Harare,” Moyo said.
He said of the more than 2 000 cases recorded, 20 were from Glen View 5 Primary School, where two pupils died, forcing closure of the institution to avert further casualties.
“Coming from Chitungwiza which was hit by cholera as well, I am going to utilise that and try to find means and ways to combat the disease,” he said.
By yesterday, three makeshift clinics had been set up in Glen View, where 1 461 cases were recorded, while Budiriro had a total of 534 cases and 436 cases at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital in Mbare.
Cholera is transmitted through consumption of contaminated water and poor sanitation as well as hygienic malpractices in communities.
The Health minister blamed Harare City Council for aiding the spread of the disease by failing to collect garbage, fix burst sewer pipes and provide clean water to residents, who now rely on untreated water from boreholes and unprotected wells.
“Someone was sitting on the job, not doing their work. We want to make sure these elements are plucked out. In this case, it’s the City of Harare. Blocked sewers had not been repaired for over two months, uncollected garbage, untreated water supply as well as vending of fish and meat which we are going to ensure strict policing to stop the practice completely,” he said.
Chitungwiza Municipality has also issued a cholera alert after some residents were admitted to St Mary’s Clinic after exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
Masvingo provincial medical director Ammadeous Shamhu said the disease claimed one life last week, although the situation was now under control.
“We had one confirmed case of cholera, where a 20-year-old man from Sisk residential area in Mucheke high-density suburb succumbed to the disease last week. He was coming from Glen View in Harare, where the disease was first detected. We are, however, on high alert and our surveillance teams are on the ground,” he said.
In Beitbridge, council officials yesterday said they were ready to deal with the disease.
“We are ready and measures are in place. Educational drives are underway and we should prevail.
“We have distributed preventive material at targeted community groups and markets, water points, schools and business centres,” town clerk Loud Ramakgapola said.