'Be open on outbreak'

HARARE - Local Government authorities should not keep the cholera outbreak a secret as it will only lead to more deaths, public health expert Prosper Chonzi said.

In an interview with the Daily News, Chonzi said unlike typhoid which has a longer incubation, cholera can kill within hours.

Over 20 people have died from cholera while more than 3 000 cases have been recorded of the waterborne disease. Due to the severity of the matter, Harare was declared a state of emergency.

“The deaths were institutional but more people could be dying because of cholera.

“The moment that it was confirmed all health institutions were supposed to have been on high alert and contingency measures put in place to avoid its further spread.

"If we keep it secret, more people are likely to die, which is why I suggest that the statistics and severity of the matter be made public so that assistance is rendered,” Chonzi said.

He added that because cholera spreads easily and very fast, it was important that schools be on high alert.

“The moment an institution such as school decommissions a borehole because it has the cholera bacteria, it should be closed to avoid any contact with the water.

“Children should be protected as cholera incubates faster in them depending on their immune system. If the ministry of Health has to ask schools to be temporarily closed to deal with this then so be it. Lives are more important,” he said.

Chitungwiza mayor Gift Tsverere said 14 suspected cases were recorded in the town while two were confirmed.

Tsverere said all Chitungwiza stakeholders should come together as a collective to beat the cholera scourge.

“The municipality shall with immediate effect tighten the inspection of all food processing outlets to ensure health standards are adhered to according to the law.

“We are also appealing to the residents to immediately report any sewer leakages to our offices so as to enable the prompt deployment of the rapid response team which
is on standby. The municipality is working tirelessly to try and ensure adequate and reliable potable water supplies to the residents."

Community Water Alliance national coordinator Hildaberta Rwambiwa said the organisation was receiving daily updates of areas where cholera was being suspected.

Rwambiwa said the diseases had now affected some parts of Mbare, after residents had complained of raw sewer coming out of the Mbare flats.

“We understand that two people have died in Epworth while a teacher in Glen View is also said to have succumbed to the disease.

“Right now all we want is for the health authorities to address the cause of the outbreak and to also discipline the district officer who refused to act on the sewer before it caused all these deaths,” Rwambiwa said.

Minister of Health Obadiah Moyo could not be reached on his phone to confirm the deaths and whether more schools would be ordered to suspend classes.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has also suspended public gatherings due to the outbreak stating that it is for people’s own safety.

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