THE Easter festivities begin today and end on Monday. It is a long holiday for the Christian community marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Muslims are still celebrating the month-long Ramadan which began on March 10.

Mega church services have been lined up for an action-packed weekend that will be replete with worship, although in some provinces gatherings have been restricted to contain the spread of cholera.

For non-Christians, it is a long weekend for merriment despite the tough economic environment characterised by the depreciating Zimdollar which has pushed prices of basic commodities in local currency beyond the reach of many.

Some will travel to the rural areas to enjoy the long weekend with relatives. Others will stay at home weighed down by the tough economic environment.

But in all the merriment we should not lower our guard as cholera remains a threat despite the launch of the vaccination campaign in January.

An oral cholera vaccination campaign began in January and 2 121 784 people had received the vaccine as of March 6.  The campaign targeted 26 districts that reported high numbers of cases in the country.

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Statistics from the Health and Child Care ministry show that there was a cumulative total of 30 300 suspected cholera cases, 71 laboratory confirmed deaths, 565 suspected deaths and 2 813 confirmed cases reported as of Wednesday.

Since the first cholera case was recorded in Chegutu last year, the waterborne disease has spread beyond the 17 traditional cholera hotspot districts of Buhera, Chegutu, Chikomba, Chimanimani, Chipinge, Chitungwiza, Chiredzi, Harare, Gokwe North, Marondera, Mazowe, Shamva, Mutare, Murehwa, Mwenezi, Seke and Wedza.

We are in a cholera crisis and there are fears that more lives will be lost to the waterborne disease.

Government this week said church gatherings needed clearance to prevent the spread of cholera.

“Going forward, no church gatherings will be permitted unless church leaders install solar-powered boreholes or bush pumps, along with proper sanitation facilities,” Information minister Jenfan Muswere said during post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday.

“All gatherings must obtain prior clearance and be supervised by health authorities.”

This is a good policy which needs enforcement. However, history has shown us that the policy does not work especially where the apostolic sects are involved. This is a constituency the government has failed to rein in. Some of them held their annual gatherings even during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Cholera remains a threat hence we should not lower our guard. We threw away the reins during the COVID-19 era with disastrous consequences.

Cholera has spread in the region which calls for vigilance among citizens.

Caution should start at the individual level and cascade to community and national levels.

Basic hygiene, vigilance and respecting the warnings issued by authorities are key in the fight against cholera. As Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe president Johannes Marisa said this week, Zimbabwe “cannot afford to continue losing people from preventable and treatable medieval diseases like cholera because of simply ignoring basic hygiene”.