Fear mounts as cholera outbreak hits Harare

Harare ‑ Four people are feared dead on Thursday, as a cholera outbreak has hit the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.

Following the outbreak, 35 other people were admitted to hospital.

Outgoing health and childcare minister David Parirenyatwa declared the cholera outbreak Thursday evening, after visiting Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital to assess the condition of the admitted patients.

The outbreak in Budiriro and Glen View high-density suburbs raises fears and sad memories of a repeat of the 2008 epidemic, which left 4 500 people dead.

Parirenyatwa said his visit to the hospital sought to find out from patients the sources of water they used for drinking.

“One person died on admission here, while there are four suspected community deaths which are being investigated by the Harare City team,” he said.

“Eleven cases have been confirmed to be cholera after tests.”

He warned people to be hygienic and make sure they used safe water for drinking and cooking purposes.

“It’s usually a problem of water, contaminated water,” he said.

Parirenyatwa said they suspected people from the affected areas were drinking water from contaminated boreholes, which he said authorities would decommission.

Last year, more than 90 percent of boreholes in low-density suburbs were condemned.

On Thursday night, Parirenyatwa said they were following up on all people who were in contact with the cholera victims to stop the disease from spreading.

The Harare City Council has responded to the outbreak by activating its rapid response teams comprising case management health promotion and epidemiology surveillance water and sanitation and hygiene.

The Harare City health department is also setting up a treatment camp at a polyclinic in one of the suburbs where deaths have been recorded, they said in an update.

The cholera outbreak in Harare comes at a time when Zimbabwe has been battling with typhoid in its major towns and cities.

Chegutu was the last town to suffer a cholera outbreak at the beginning of the year, resulting in five deaths.

According to the health ministry, Gweru City has recorded 15 new suspected typhoid cases as on September 5, 2018, bringing the cumulative total to 1 906 suspected typhoid cases, 16 confirmed and eight deaths.

“In Harare, a total of 33 new suspected typhoid cases and no deaths were reported during the week ending August 26, 2018. The cumulative typhoid cases for Harare is 4 773 suspected cases, 165 confirmed cases and three deaths,” the health ministry said in an update.

“This brings to a national cumulative figure for typhoid cases to 6 653 suspected cases, 181 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.”

Besides Gweru and Harare, the country is also grappling with typhoid outbreaks in Zvishavane, Kadoma and Masvingo.

African News Agency (ANA)