AN inexplicable bout of diarrhoea has affected over 100 pupils at Thornhill and Guinea Fowl high schools in Gweru and most of the children have since been hospitalised. Reports from the two schools indicate that some pupils failed to sit for their “O” level Geography paper 1 and Accounts Paper 1 examinations because of the diarrhoea. Both schools have recorded over 50 confirmed diarrhoea cases each in the last four days and parents have been forced to take their sick children to local medical institutions for treatment. Midlands provincial education director Mrs Agnes Gudo confirmed the outbreak, saying Ministry officials were on the ground investigating the matter.

“Yes, we got information to the effect that there were school children at Thornhill and Guinea Fowl high schools in Gweru who have been affected by diarrhoea. Inspectors are on the ground looking into the matter and we hope we will have information as to what is happening and what is causing it.” Mrs Gudo said both day scholars and boarders had been affected by the disease. If it were only boarders, we could be saying the problem is at the schools, but day scholars have also been affected,” she said. “I don’t have the exact number of the affected children right now,” she said. The two schools are widely regarded as top institutions of learning in the Midlands Province.

 “The transmission mode has remained largely unknown so far,” said a teacher at Thornhill High School. “Some affected children have been sent for medical observation at home, while we are busy disinfecting the school under the watchful eye of officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.” A parent said, on condition of anonymity, that she was called to Thornhill High School on Saturday evening after her child developed diarrhoea.

“I travelled from Bulawayo to Gweru on Saturday evening after my daughter developed diarrhoea,” she said. “I was shocked to see over 50 pupils being attended to while some were taken to local hospitals. I took mine to one of the hospitals where she was hydrated.” Another parent said he was worried that his child’s “O” level examination preparations would be affected.

“My son is sitting for his “O” level examination and now he has been affected by this unexpected illness,” he said. “I hope he will perform well.” Diarrhoea in Zimbabwe cities is largely due rotting rubbish that often goes for months unattended in crowded locations. state media