Lungu directs defence forces to join fight against cholera

President Edgar Lungu has ordered the defense forces to join in the fight against Cholera saying the rate at which it is spreading is worrisome.

And President Lungu has directed that some markets and restaurants which do not meet hygiene standards be closed until they comply with set regulations.

Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations told a media briefing today that President Lungu asked ZNS, ZAF and Zambia Army commanders to join in fighting cholera.

“The president has this morning spoken to the three leaders of the defense forces. In short he has called in the military in order to escalate the fight against the cholera outbreak in Lusaka. After reviewing the efforts being undertaken under the Ministry of Health and the Lusaka City Council, the President has come to the conclusion that emergency steps needed to be undertaken in order for the country to contain the outbreak of the deadly waterborne disease. So this morning, he communicated to ZNS, ZAF and the Zambia Army and the police to join the Ministry of Health because in some cases, some markets will be closed and some trading areas will be closed and there will be a major clean up of the city; unblocking drainages, cleaning up contaminated areas, and because it will be a widespread operation, the defense forces are required in an effort like that in the face of an epidemic,” Chanda said.

Since October 6, Lusaka has recorded 1,550 cholera cases affecting 80 residential areas with the most affected being Chipata Compound, Kanyama, Garden Compound, Kabanana, Chawama, Matero, Mazyopa, Mtendere, Chazanga, Misisi, among others.

Chanda revealed that recently, the outbreak had spread to low density areas including Rhodespark, Woodlands, Balastone, Chelstone, Silverest, Chamba Valley and Ibex Hill, Meanwood among others.

“Given the spread of the outbreak to other areas where the outbreak has never been recorded in many years, it shows the scale and adversity of this problem and the pace at which it can escalate given the onset of the rains and the projection by MET is that we will have above normal rainfall so the danger is there that it can spread rapidly to the entire city,” Chanda said.

“Despite commendable efforts and interventions instituted by a multi sectoral teams, the outbreak has continued with 1,550 cases recorded with 168 individuals undergoing treatment as at 06 AM today. Lusaka has been recording an average of 60 new cases every day. The President therefore notes with sadness that a total of 41 people have died since the outbreak on October 6.”

He said Soweto market was one of the trading centres to be closed to facilitate massive cleaning as three traders from there had died of cholera and food samples tested were contaminated with fecal matter.

“We now note that the spread of cholera is being propagated by contaminated food as evidenced by samples of food taken from some markets where foods like apples, mangoes, meat, fish and chicken traded from some markets and streets. It is no longer only in contaminated shallow wells in some areas. And the health officials will soon tell us, there is a suspicion that mushrooms could be one foods that could carry this bacteria. The majority of those who have gotten the disease are traders and street vendors and people who have consumed raw and ready to eat foods from streets and some market. The food samples from Soweto Market revealed contamination with fecal matter and the bacteria that causes cholera. So Soweto Market…in the last three weeks, three traders from Soweto market have died from cholera and a cleaner currently under admission at the treatment centres.
In view of the aforesaid, the President is deeply concerned,” said Chanda.

“Some of the measures undertaken include: affected areas like Soweto Market may be closed entirely or partially tomorrow to allow for a thorough cleaning of the trading centre. All ministries are directed to work closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that the situation is brought under control. The measures may also include the suspension of street vending completely or in limited measure in identified areas to facilitate health officials to clean up these areas. This will allow for thorough cleaning, garbage collection and unblocking of drainages. There will be broad restrictions in the sale of ready to eat foods and raw and ready to eat foods like vegetables, meat, chicken and fish on the streets of Lusaka. The President expects the military forces to brief him, working with the Ministry of Health, daily in the coming hours and days and weeks in the progress they make in bringing the spread of the epidemic under control. Soweto Market and other identified markets like I have said may be closed because they have been identified as the epicenter of the outbreak. All markets, bars, restaurants and trading places that do not meet the health standards and pose a risk will be closed until they satisfy the required hygiene standards.”

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