Thandeka Moyo Bulawayo Bureau
THE number of people who have been quarantined for cholera in Bulawayo has risen to 10 from three on Friday amid revelations that the city’s infectious disease hospital — Thorngrove — can hold no more than 100 patients.
One more suspected case was recorded in Umguza, Matabeleland North, bringing to 11 the number of feared cases in the region.
The water-borne disease, which broke out in Harare at the beginning of the month, has claimed at least 30 lives.
Bulawayo City Council director of health services Dr Edwin Sibanda yesterday said half of the quarantined people were probable cases of cholera awaiting lab results confirmation.
The results are expected today.
Speaking during an emergency meeting organised by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex yesterday, Dr Sibanda said the city last had a confirmed cholera case in 2008.
“So far we have 10 suspected cases, all of whom are at Thorngrove Hospital in an isolated ward. There is a mix of ages and patients are aged from 18 to 63,” he said.
“Five of them are probable cases as they were in contact with affected areas and they have signs and symptoms that spell cholera.”
Dr Sibanda said the other five have profuse diarrhoea although they have not been out of Bulawayo.
“The province uses Thorngrove as a screening facility for infectious diseases although our lab facilities need boosting. As of today we did not have a confirmed case but we have put in place thematic committees to ensure we do not have an increase of these suspected cases,” he said.
The thematic committees will include Minister Ncube, representatives from BCC, Mpilo Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals and other stakeholders around the city.
Dr Sibanda said the city does not have adequate science experts to ensure there are rapid tests which will help determine cholera infection.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said cholera is deadly and members of the public should be aware that it can kill within hours.
“We want the people of Bulawayo to know that cholera is deadly and prevention is better than cure. They need to wash their hands and practise high levels of hygiene because we will not be able to contain an outbreak in the city,” he said.
“In our deliberations with the minister, we made it clear that we need the Ministry of Health and Child Care to immediately unfreeze the hiring of scientists as it is crucial that we have them now.”
Dr Ngwenya said the media also had a role to disseminate information on hygiene.
“We also encourage people to rush to hospital whenever they suspect they may have cholera as taking home remedies may prove deadly,” he said.
Matabeleland North provincial medical director Dr Alfred Muchara said the Umguza patient was on treatment.
“We have one suspected case in Umguza and we await lab test results to confirm if it is cholera. Measures are in place to ensure there is no spread of cholera in the communities,” he said.
Minister Ncube will today meet stakeholders including the business community to come up with strategies to averted cholera in Bulawayo.
Cholera broke out in Harare on September 1 this year with 5 463 cases and 30 deaths having been recorded so far.
Members of the public are urged to wash hands before and after eating or using the toilet. They should also eat hot food and avoid eating at undesignated places. Breastfeeding mothers are also encouraged to wash hands before and after feeding their babies.