The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
A diarrhoea outbreak has hit the Bulawayo Polytechnic with an undisclosed number of students and lecturers affected with the institution reportedly responding by banning the consumption of tap water.
This comes as the Bulawayo City Council has reported that the diarrhoea outbreak in Mzilikazi suburb has affected more than 400 people with the local authority upping containment measures to ensure that it does not continue to spread. City Health Director Dr Edwin Sibanda yesterday confirmed the latest figures revealing that the daily figures at their health facilities were, however, gradually declining.
“As of Friday we handled just one case while on Thursday we had seven, this thus bringing the overall total to date to just over 400. Our teams are busy on the ground educating residents on preventative measures as we work to contain this outbreak.
“However, our major challenge right now is the unavailability of water because, you can imagine people going for all this while without supplies, some turn to contaminated sources of water which goes on to affect their health,” said Dr Sibanda.
Last week the local authority revealed that Mzilikazi, Magwegwe and Luveve clinics were recording the highest number of cases, although sporadic incidents are received in various council-run health care centres across the city.
In June, Bulawayo’s Luveve suburb recorded more than 2 000 diarrhoea cases, leading to the death of 13 people. Human waste was blamed for contaminating water causing the typhoid and dysentery outbreak and in a number of suburbs effluent can be seen on the streets and at people’s houses.
Meanwhile, Dr Sibanda also confirmed that Bulawayo Polytechnic was the first learning institution to be affected by the outbreak, with college sources revealing that there was a danger that it might be forced to close to help contain the outbreak.
“At Bulawayo Poly the outbreak started shortly before the writing classes resumed lectures, affecting mainly the lecturers and the ancillary staff. As we speak now the outbreak has also affected the students although I do not have the figures of those affected off hand,” said Dr Sibanda.
According to an internal memorandum dated 29 October 2020 from the institution’s principal Mr Gilbert Mabasa, the institution has since banned the consumption of council tap water.
Efforts to get a comment from Mr Mabasa were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered. Sources at the learning institution, however, revealed that authorities could be forced to close before the writing of examinations so as to contain the outbreak and ensure a reliable supply of water before exposing more learners to the outbreak.