Cholera deaths now 49: Minister

The death toll from the cholera outbreak has reached 49, with 21% of the cases recorded to date being children below five years and the youngest being eight months old, Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo said yesterday.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

In a statement on the cholera situation in the National Assembly, Moyo said more than 10 000 people had been screened, with 6 645 suspected cholera cases, of which 96 tested positive and 49 had died.

“There has been a high level of resistance to antibiotics, and that has been happening in some areas heavily affected by typhoid, raising the possibility of dual infections,” Moyo said.

“Plans for a cholera vaccine are at an advanced stage, and the request was made to the World Health Organisation for the vaccine to protect over a million people in Harare and, as an emergency measure, 500 000 doses will be provided today (yesterday).”

Moyo said some of the challenges that his ministry was experiencing included interruption of water supplies due to sewer repairs in the affected areas, low supplies of aqua tablets, bleach and waterguard, but he said the Chinese Embassy had sent in more supplies yesterday.

“This is the first time that Zimbabwe is using oral cholera vaccination and so external support is required to guide us,” he said.

Wedza North MP David Musabayana (Zanu PF) asked Moyo to explain if there was a relation between the cholera epidemic and elections.

“In 2008, there were disputed elections and there was a cholera outbreak, and then this year, the elections were disputed and there is cholera. Could there be a biological attack so that this can be investigated?” Musabayana asked.

But Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure (MDC Alliance) demanded that Musabayana should produce evidence or withdraw his remarks, as cholera was a serious issue which affected people despite their political affiliation.

Moyo rubbished Musabayana’s remarks, saying that there must be no political grandstanding on serious issues like the cholera epidemic, adding that government and local authorities must work together.

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