18 October 2017

Zimbabwe: Heatwave Hits Zimbabwe

Photo: Hartmut Sieper/Afribiz
Downtown Harare (file photo).

Some parts of the country experienced record-breaking high temperatures yesterday as Zimbabwe came under the spell of a heatwave that is also expected to affect the country today, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has said. MSD forecaster Mr James Ngoma yesterday said very hot temperatures were recorded in Nyanga, where they topped 38 degrees Celsius, up from the previous record of 32 degrees Celsius.

"Chisengu and Mutare recorded 39 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius, up from 37 degrees Celsius and 39 degrees Celsius, respectively," he said. Kariba recorded the highest temperature of 42 degrees Celsius, Victoria Falls 40, Great Zimbabwe 29, Vumba 35, Harare 35, Bulawayo 35, Gweru 35, Mutare 40, Lupane, 42, Gwanda 41 and Marondera 39 degrees Celsius. Bindura recorded 39, Masvingo 39 and Kwekwe 38 degrees Celsius.

"Today, (Wednesday), high temperatures will continue to be experienced in Matabeleland North, all Mashonaland provinces, northern parts of the Midlands and Harare provinces," he said. Mr Ngoma said the southern areas covering Matabeleland South, south of Midlands, Masvingo and Manicaland will have brief morning clouds. "The daytime temperatures will be cooler than late. We therefore advise the public to take extra precautions in ensuring that the elderly and young children are kept well hydrated through adequate intake of water. If one needs to be out in the direct sun, please carry an umbrella or wear a wide-brimmed hat. Those in malaria-prone areas are also advised to utilise the necessary preventative measures as mosquitoes proliferate during this season, especially near bodies that can hold stagnant water such as dams, swimming pools and even small containers. Note that mosquitoes only require an inch of standing water to breed," he said.

In Beitbridge, some people were affected by heat-induced fever as temperatures soared to uncomfortable levels. However, Beitbridge District Civil Protection Unit chairperson Mrs Kiliboni Ndou-Mbedzi said they were still to receive reports of livestock or people affected by the current heatwave. "The committee is very active on the ground, though we are yet to get any casualties on humans and livestock,"she said.

District livestock specialist Mr Bevan Musongwe said the situation was still normal, adding that chickens were at risk of succumbing to hyperthermia if the temperatures rose to extremes. The district medical officer, Dr Lenos Samhere, could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, an official at Beitbridge referral hospital, who requested anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the Press, said they were attending to people with fevers associated the prevailing high temperatures.

"So far, we have been attending to patients with fevers associated with the heatwave. These include flue and malaria and we are yet to record any deaths. We will continue to monitor the situation," said the health official. In Midlands, a heatwave swept through the province yesterday with Kwekwe, Zvishavane, Gweru and Gokwe recording relatively high temperatures.

Water and ice cream vendors in Gweru ran out of stocks as residents had to consume a lot of fluids to avoid dehydration. A snap survey by The Herald noted that a number of vendors in the CBD and the busy Kudzanayi Bus terminus ran out of water stocks, with vendors resorting to hoarding from wholesalers in order to restock. A visit to health institutions around the city revealed that primary school pupils were taken in for check-ups after many fainted as a result of suspected heat exhaustion.

A health expert Dr Velda Mushangwe urged people to take a lot of fluids, adding that infants were among those at the greatest risk for hit-related illnesses. She said infants should be kept out of direct sun and take a lot of fluids. Similarly, Mashonaland West was not spared the hellish temperatures, which peaked in the Zambezi Valley, where temperatures are generally always on the high side. Scores of people in Kariba, Chirundu and rural Nyami Nyami complained of nose bleeding as high temperatures took their toll.

But Kariba district medical director Dr Godwin Muza said there were no major incidents associated with the heatwave. "So far, we have not had any major incidents and we think people have taken heed of warnings to stay away from the direct sun and taking lots of fluids," said Dr Muza. There were no reports on animals adversely affected by the high temperatures. However, people in Kariba reported an unusually high number of animals that were reportedly cooling off at the Lake's shores.

"We have seen a lot of animals especially elephants coming to the Lake shore. Temperatures are too high and we would like to thank the Meteorological Services Department for warning us in advance. We took precautionary measures," said Mr Denford Kangwayi. Some people in Chirundu and Kariba districts, however, lost their chickens to the unbearably high temperatures. Those with access to swimming pools took the opportunity to cool off.

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