Harare cholera death toll hits 49, epidemic also claims 8-month-old baby

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By Anna Chibamu

ZIMBABWE’S cholera outbreak death toll has surged to 49, with 21 percent of the fatalities being those of children who are below five years of age.

This was revealed in a Wednesday ministerial statement to parliament by Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo.

“As of the 26th of September 2018, more than 10 000 persons have been presented to the screening and treatment centres.

“6 645 suspected cases have been reported, of which 96 of them tested positive for vibrio cholerae and 49 have died to date.

“I must also make special mention of the fact that 21% of the cases and a similar proportion of the deaths recorded to date are children below the age of five, the youngest patient being eight months old.

Minister Moyo described the outbreak as “unique” after there have been “high levels of resistance to the commonly available antibiotics – high fatalities despite the outbreaks being predominantly urban and in that it is happening in the same areas that are heavily affected by typhoid”.

“That raises the possibilities of dual infections,” said the Minister.

“For these reasons, plans for vaccination for both cholera and typhoid are at an advanced stage with the cholera vaccine expected in the country today.”

Minister Moyo said government placed a request to the World health Organisation for the vaccination of over a million locals living in Harare and beyond as a first emergency measure.

“…We have been provided with 500 000 doses which as I said are arriving today (Wednesday).

“It will be relevant for me to also advise you on the logistics. We have received two cholera central reference complete kits which are for cholera testing and very relevant.

“The global and regional WHO, UNICEF and CDC officers have arrived in the country and are supporting the vaccination teams.

“Arrangements are in process for additional supplies to arrive in the next couple of days.”

Zimbabwe’s biggest health disaster since the 2008-09 cholera outbreak has been linked to the consumption of water from contaminated water sources and shallow wells mostly in Harare’s Glen View and Budiriro suburbs.

These included boreholes and wells which are all suspected to be the source of the outbreak.

Sewerage was flowing on the ground all over the affected areas due to the blocked and damaged sewer pipes.

In his address to parliament, Minister Moyo lamented the fact that the causes of the 2008-09 cholera outbreak that saw authorities deal with 98 592 and 4 288 deaths have not yet been addressed exactly 10 years after.