More river cholera test results expected soon

The results of further tests done to determine if the Limpopo River is contaminated with cholera are expected by Saturday.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko told a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday that the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry in Limpopo had increased its surveillance and monitoring of all rivers in the north of the province.

“All tap water audits so far have tested negative for any kind of cholera contamination, which means that tap water on the South African side is indeed safe for human consumption,” he said.

Earlier this week the provincial health department confirmed that cholera bacteria had been found in the Limpopo River.

Maseko said the national regulation unit was also monitoring areas close to the Zimbabwean border—the origin of contamination—to determine the health of residents in Musina and Madibo.

Samples taken, which included raw sewage, would indicate whether cholera bacteria were present in waste water.

“Further tests will help determine whether potable water quality has deteriorated since the last round of sampling.”

On Friday Limpopo health spokesperson Phuti Seloba said the department was still awaiting the results of tests done to see if the Nwanedzi River was contaminated.

Seloba said 43 new cases of cholera had been reported in the province since Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 515 people.

The death toll currently stands at eight people.

On Thursday AgriSA said emerging and subsistence farmers and land claim beneficiaries situated in the Madunbo corridor, Nwangedzi valley and Pafuri were being affected by the Limpopo River’s contamination.

Meanwhile, Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that 12 of 14 people who had come into contact with a cholera patient in the province had now been tested for the illness.

An Ethiopian man, who arrived in East London from Zimbabwe on Sunday, remained in isolation while being treated for cholera, Kupelo said. His condition was stable.

All those the man had been in contact with, all Ethiopians, appeared healthy. The results of their tests would be available in 48 hours.

Maseko said the government would send a delegation to Zimbabwe on Monday to assess the deteriorating food and humanitarian crisis.

Government and United Nations figures show that more than 560 deaths and 12 500 cases of cholera had been recorded in Zimbabwe since August.—Sapa


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