Reports from Zimbabwe’s second biggest city indicate that learners and staffers at Bulawayo Polytechnic have been barred from consuming tap water following an outbreak of diarrhoea at the tertiary learning institution.

The cumulative figure of infected students and lecturers could however not be immediately ascertained.

The Polytechnic’s current situation comes at a time when authorities at Town House have also reported a diarrhoea outbreak in Mzilikazi suburb, amid startling indications that over 400 residents from the populous neighborhood have been affected.

Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has now upped containment measures to ensure that cases do not skyrocket across the suburbs.

According to BCC Health Director Dr Edwin Sibanda, Bulawayo Polytechnic becomes the first learning institution to be affected by the diarrhoea 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,” Dr Sibanda told state media.

Sources at the institution of higher and tertiary learning expressed fears that Bulawayo Poly could be closed before the assumption of examinations as part of its containment measures.

While college principal Gilbert Mabasa could not be reached for comment on the matter, an internal memorandum from his office, dated 29 October 2020, reveals that the institution has also banned the consumption of council tap water.

In his comments on the latest figures since the outbreak was reported in Mzilikazi, Dr Sibanda said the daily figures at council-run medical facilities have, however been declining, gradually.

He said as of Friday, BCC handled just a single case while a total of seven cases had been reported the previous day. He said the overall total of infections so far stands at ‘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,” Dr Sibanda told the state media.

The city council last week revealed that the highest number of cases were recorded at Mzilikazi, Magwegwe and Luveve clinics while sporadic incidents were also received in various council-run health care centres across the country’s second biggest city.

In June this year, 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.

state media
additional reporting: Zwnews