By Vumani Mthiyane, Tanaka Mrewa and Lulu Brenda Harris
An outbreak of Malaria has claimed about 8 lives in Matabeleland South since the beginning of the year with about 60 cases having been recorded so far.
The outbreak has caused panic in the province with people in the province linking the fatalities to the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).
However, Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Dr Rudo Chikodzere allayed fears that the death were caused by the deadly pandemic.
“Yes I can confirm having received 58 cases of malaria related symptoms.
Out of the 58 cases there are 2 deaths from Gwanda rural and 6 deaths were recorded in Beitbridge district.
“The deaths in Gwanda are for April while those in Beitbridge were recorded between February and April 2020. As the ministry of health we were 100 percent satisfied after conducting the tests that it was indeed malaria,” said Dr Chikodzere.
The PMD attributed the cause to the moderate rains received last year.
“We expect cases to peak in June due to the rainy weather that provided a conducive breeding environment for mosquitoes. Because of the rains received, there is tall grass, which is blooming, there are puddles of water that is stagnant. The grass needs to be cut and water bodies tested and if there is mosquito larva, it has to be killed,” Dr Chikodzere said.
She noted the province has implemented several activities as intervening measures.
“We are dealing with breeding sites as soon we can, putting treatment where there can be potential infection of the disease. We are carrying out bio- larva sighting where we identify breeding places and use chemicals to destroy the lava,” the PMD cited.
Dr Chikodzere highlighted that under case management, communities were urged to come for testing as quickly as possible.
“The malaria test kits were distributed across provinces and those with signs must be tested and put on treatment. The challenge is some come later when the disease has progressed to severe malaria,” she said.
She added that distribution of mosquito nets was also underway.
“So far, Gwanda has received 2 000 mosquito nets and Beitbridge 90 000. But these are not used for their proper use, as some use the nets to fence their vegetables garden. I saw in Plumtree where a mosquito net had been used in the garden,” lamented the PMD.
Dr Chikodzere also said artisinal miners were more at risk, as they often worked during the night where they were likely to be bitten by mosquitoes and exposed to Malaria.
“Our main intervention is also carrying out indoor residual spraying within the vicinity and it is our hope that as head towards winter, the case decline,” she said.
Asked about the relationship between Covid-19 and malaria symptoms the PMD said the case definitions differ.
“The truth is that there is no Covid-19 case in this province. All the suspected cases we tested came out negative and for now I can say the province is safe from Coronavirus,” she said.
Below are the Malaria cases recorded throughout the province: Manama (6), Nhwali (11), Sengezane (5), West Nicholson (4), Selonga (5), Kafusi (5), Gungwe (5), Ntalale (3), Collen Bawn (1) and Buvuma (11).