South Africa: Cholera Death Toll Rises to 20

The Department of Health has announced that the number of deaths related to the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, has soared to 20.

The department said on Thursday the number of patients that have been seen at the Jubilee District Hospital as of 24 May 2023 is now at 179.

According to a statement, of the 179 patients, 18 were transferred to Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital and Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

In addition, data shows that the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of cholera is standing at 29, while 78 have been admitted due to gastrointestinal infection.

On Thursday, Cabinet said extensive work is underway to test all possible sources of the contamination following the cholera outbreak.

According to Cabinet, authorities are testing all water sources, including the tankers delivering water, taps and the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant.

"To date, no evidence of cholera bacteria has been found in these sources, giving confidence to the likelihood that the cholera outbreak could be from a once-off contamination event, with the current cases being a result of secondary and tertiary contamination."

Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, is expected to meet the City of Tshwane Mayor, Cilliers Brink, on Friday, 26 May 2023, to develop a joint plan for the long overdue refurbishment of the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant.

SAnews reported on Tuesday that Gauteng and the Free State are the hardest hit by the bacterial disease.

South Africa reported its first cholera death in February after the virus arrived in the country from Malawi.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, the Head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Dr Juno Thomas, said the hallmark of cholera is acute watery diarrhoea.

She advised healthcare workers to treat all diarrhoea cases as suspected cholera until proven otherwise.

"This is defined as diarrhoea lasting less than seven days, which is typically watery, non-bloody liquid stools that may contain a bit of mucous," she explained, adding that diarrhoea is three or more stools within 24 hours.

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