Harare typhoid outbreak alert

HARARE - Authorities in Harare are on high alert after a typhoid outbreak that has claimed four deaths so far and affected over 500 people.

The High Glen districts of Glen View and Budiriro — the epicentre of a devastating 2008 cholera outbreak that claimed over 4 000 lives — are once again under siege, according to the city’s department of Health Services director Prosper Chonzi.

“Provision of water and sanitation remains a priority,” he said. “We would rather have people with water that can be treated or boiled than with no water at all. We are taking every diarrhoea report as a typhoid case.

“Although we have confirmed four deaths so far, it is possible that they may be higher as some occurred before we realised there is an outbreak.”

Chonzi said there were concerted efforts from different departments of the city to contain the outbreak.
“The city has also embarked on an exercise to rehabilitate boreholes. Although the water has been said to be contaminated by sewerage, we are providing free aqua tablets and urging residents to boil all water regardless of source,” he said.

“Food is also a key driver of typhoid and residents must be wary of the food they take. Do not just buy food, particularly cold foods. We have also engaged the Waste Management department to make sure there are no heaps of waste lying around. Where the waste has not been collected, we are urging residents to call us so we can disinfect before collection.”

Harare’s public relations manager Leslie Gwindi said people are just calling every diarrhoea case, typhoid which he said sends out the wrong impression.

“We are collecting information and only after that can we provide truthful information,” he said. “I will only be able to give figures by tomorrow midday, so call me then.”

Harare has been reeling under the weight of a crippling water shortage that has seen most areas without water, some for as much as five years now.

Chonzi said the city is working on repairing pumps to make sure residents have water all the time.

“We have received the required parts and pumping should resume soon,” he said. - Staff Writer

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