The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: CPU On High Alert Following Cholera Outbreak in Musina, South Africa

The Civil Protection Unit in Beitbridge is now on alert following a cholera outbreak in Musina, South Africa last week, an official has said.

Acting District Civil Protection Unit chairperson Mr Peter Moyo said during a disaster preparedness meeting yesterday that they were set to meet their South African counterparts over the issue on Monday next week.

He said the South Africans had engaged them (CPU) for assistance on how to manage the situation in light of Zimbabwe's successful containment of a cholera outbreak which swept across the country in 2008.

A team of health officials from Musina also visited Beitbridge last week to familiarise themselves with effective cholera management

methods employed by Zimbabwean authorities.

"We have activated all our units across the district following an outbreak of cholera in Musina, South Africa. There is increased human traffic between Musina and Beitbridge and hence we need to work together with our neighbours to avoid a rapid spread of the disease.

"So far they (South African Port Health) have admitted a number of people at Musina Hospital for cholera," he said.

It is understood that most of the cholera cases in Musina emanated from Wype Farm near South Africa's northern border town. Mr Moyo said people should not panic as the situation was under control adding that the CPU was well prepared and working towards ensuring that the disease did not spread into Zimbabwe.

Beitbridge district medical officer Dr Takaitei Kanongara told the same meeting that they had one confirmed case of cholera at Shashe Clinic while they also conducted tests on nine suspected cases in the urban area and rural western part of the district.

He said the patient was diagnosed on 5 March when he came from Musina in South Africa where he had stayed for four days. He added that the other suspected cases were recorded at Makakavhule, Swereki, Shashe, Chamnangana and Beitbridge District Hospital.

Dr Kanongara said the tests they had conducted so far revealed that the cholera strain was less harsh.

"We had one case of cholera where the patient had come from Musina in South Africa on the 5th of March. We treated him and discharged him after three days.

"Furthermore we had nine suspected cases of cholera in Beitbridge West where tests were conducted and all the cases were negative," he said.

Dr Kanongara said they had started mobilising for more disaster preparedness kits to deal with a possible outbreak adding that they were monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

"We are fully prepared for any eventualities though as the Civil Protection Unit we need to engage Immigration and Customs authorities from both Zimbabwe and South Africa to ensure a speedy flow of human traffic at the border post. Delays and slow movement have the potential to cause a volatile situation as we try to avoid any casualties," he said.

Dr Kanongara said they had already started health education and awareness campaigns across the district so as to avoid the recurrence of the 2008 situation.

"We are urging members of the community to always be on alert and make use of clean water sources all the time so as to avoid any unnecessary situations," he said.

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