Suspected cholera cases in Kariba 

Source: Suspected cholera cases in Kariba –Newsday Zimbabwe

THE Health and Child Care ministry has reported three suspected cholera cases in Kariba amid fears that the current wet spell may see the country witnessing a spike in deaths caused by the disease.

The first cholera case was recorded in Chegutu in February this year before it spread across the country.

Government has failed to stem the spread, invoking memories of the 2008 to 2009 outbreak, Zimbabwe’s  worst in years, which left over 4 000 people dead.

The 2008 to 2009 outbreak was only stopped following the intervention by international and humanitarian partners such as Unicef, among others.

According to Kariba district medical officer Godwin Muza, the three suspected cases have been traced to one family.

“These three are suspected cases who are all from the same household, and showing some symptoms,” said Muza in a statement.

“They have been put on treatment in our isolation ward while awaiting confirmatory results from our Public Health lab, which may take up to 48 hours to come out.”

Muza added: “Meanwhile our rapid response team is maintaining close surveillance of the other contacts  (household members), availing some WASH [water, sanitation and hygiene] commodities to improve hygiene at the affected household and embarking on a mass community sensitisation and awareness campaign targeting most public places — food markets, beerhalls, bus station, neighbourhoods along with other community-based organisations.”

The wet spell is posing a high risk of the disease spreading.

As of December 19, a total of 12 414 cholera cases, 62 confirmed deaths and 217 suspected deaths have been reported from 54 out of 64 districts.

All 10 provinces in the country are affected.

Increasing cholera trends continue to be observed with a weekly average of 1 000 new cases with over 80% recorded in Harare and Manicaland provinces.

A declining trend has, however, been observed in Chitungwiza in recent weeks.

Available statistics indicate that an estimated 51% of cases are female with children below 15 years accounting for 36% of cases and 21% of deaths.

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and its partners have reached 190 595 people, including 87 674 children with safe water since the outset of the outbreak.

“Unicef provided two additional high-performance tents to expand the capacity of cholera treatment facilities in Zvipiripiri and Chiadzwa Health centres. This is in response to the surge in cases in Mutare and Buhera districts in Manicaland province,” Unicef said in its latest report.

“On 13 December, Unicef and the national Risk Communication and Community Engagement pillar kicked off the nationwide festive season campaign in Manicaland where 200 people in Mutare and Chimanimani districts, including 30 religious leaders and artisanal miners were sensitised on key messages on cholera prevention during the festive season.”

Government has banned public gatherings in cholera hotspots, but the directive has been largely ignored.

In Harare where the outbreak has been declared an emergency, authorities issued a seven-day ultimatum for the removal of food vendors from the street.

The informal traders ignored the directive.

Human rights lawyers said government and local authorities must be held accountable for cholera deaths as the water-borne disease spreads across the country claiming lives.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights accused authorities for “dereliction of duty” in the handling of the cholera outbreak.

The waterborne disease, which spreads through drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium which causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting, is now endemic in the country.

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