As of Monday afternoon (local time), September 17, police forces - reportedly armed with water cannons - are undertaking a security operation in the Central Business District (CBD) of the capital Harare to evict street vendors. The operation is to enforce a local ban on the sale of street food, issued on September 11 as part of a wider effort to contain an ongoing cholera outbreak in the capital. Robert Mugabe Road, Nelson Mandela Avenue, First Street, Simon Muzenda Street, and Market Street are reportedly experiencing significant traffic disruptions as a result of the action.
According to Zimbabwe health officials, over 3000 suspected cases of cholera and 28 related deaths have been identified in the current outbreak (ongoing since September 7), with the majority reportedly in the Budiriro and Glenview neighborhoods of the capital. On September 11, authorities in Harare issued a cholera emergency, banning the illegal sale of meat and fish in markets and suspending classes in the Budiriro and Glenview neighborhoods. On September 12, authorities announced a ban on public gatherings in Harare.
Cholera is typically spread via infected water supplies and induces acute diarrhea leading to severe dehydration, frequently resulting in death. The risk of death is greatest among people with compromised immune systems, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, cholera can be fatal within a matter of hours.
Individuals present in Harare are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid areas surrounding ongoing police operations, and adhere to all guidance issued by the local authorities or their home governments.
To reduce the risk of contracting cholera, wash hands regularly, drink only bottled or purified water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods. Individuals who believe they may have contracted cholera should seek immediate medical attention.
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