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Cholera Concerns Mount as Easter Church Gatherings Draw Near in Zimbabwe

Concerns have arisen regarding the potential risk of cholera outbreaks amidst the anticipation of large Easter church gatherings across the nation.

Certain apostolic sects are expecting congregations exceeding 100,000 individuals, raising alarm as Zimbabwe grapples with its most severe cholera outbreak since 2008, tallying over 29,144 cases and 300 fatalities to date.

The government has committed to intensifying surveillance and oversight of these gatherings to stem the spread of cholera during the upcoming holiday period.

Nevertheless, health professionals express apprehension that the sheer magnitude of Easter church assemblies could worsen the crisis.

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Dr. Mlungisi Ndebele, a medical expert, cautioned, “The imminent Easter holiday presents a significant risk of heightened transmission,” pointing out the conducive environment for cholera dissemination in densely populated congregations, particularly in regions with inadequate sanitation facilities.

Cholera, a grave diarrheal disease transmitted through contaminated food or water, can swiftly induce dehydration and mortality if left untreated, posing heightened risks to vulnerable demographics such as children and the elderly.

Jabari Nguvu, director of Afya Yetu, underscored the peril of large church gatherings potentially becoming hotspots for cholera transmission.

He emphasized the critical need for rigorous monitoring and adherence to hygiene standards to avert contagion.

In a post-Cabinet briefing, Information Minister Jenfan Muswere outlined new prerequisites for church gatherings, including the installation of solar-powered boreholes and adequate sanitation facilities, with clearance and oversight by health authorities mandated for all events.

Despite these precautions, certain religious leaders, like Council for Churches in Africa president Rocky Moyo, are proceeding with Easter gatherings, implementing measures to mitigate cholera risks, including community engagement and health awareness initiatives.

Archbishop Andby Makururu of Johanne the Fifth of Africa urged churches to prioritize hygiene protocols during Easter services, stressing the provision of handwashing stations and sanitation measures.

In Mashonaland Central province, Easter church camps have been canceled due to the cholera outbreak, with services limited to three hours and monitored by health officials to ensure adherence to safety protocols.

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