Public gatherings in Harare banned to contain Zim cholera outbreak

Public gatherings in Harare banned to contain Zim cholera outbreak

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is briefed by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo, centre, while Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima looks on during a tour at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital in Mbare, Harare.

The WHO said it was "scaling up its response" to contain the outbreak which it said was "expanding quickly in Harare" - a city of more than two million people.

"There are now 3,766 cases".

The First Lady called on every Zimbabwean to join hands and help in containing the disease and suggested the need for a sustainable clean up exercise plan.

Zimbabwe has experienced frequent outbreaks of cholera, with the largest outbreak occurring from August 2008 to May 2009 and claiming more than 4000 lives.

Residents in some Harare suburbs have gone for months without tap water, forcing them to dig shallow wells and boreholes that have been contaminated by raw sewage flowing from burst pipes.

Such outbreaks are common as local authorities are battling to provide potable water and sanitation facilities in the city, where slums without running water have mushroomed and whose infrastructure is falling apart due to years of neglect.

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He said the ban affects both day and night vending and in this regard, police will intensify patrols and surveillance in the Harare CBD and will be out in full force to ensure compliance with the government directive without fear of favour.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded Mugabe, has pledged to revive the economy and improve public services.

"It's more than just an emergency it is a national disaster", he said.

This comes after government on Tuesday declared the outbreak a state of emergency.

A total of 4 000 people died and at least 100 000 people fell ill.

"No lessons were learned from the 2008 epidemic and the outbreak and deaths we're seeing now is symptomatic of a still broken-down sanitation infrastructure and poor sewer management, worsened by shortages of drugs and medical supplies".

WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health and Child Care to fight the outbreak by strengthening the coordination of the response and mobilizing national and worldwide health experts to form a cholera surge team.

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