Cholera Update: 22 Dead, Source Still A Mystery, More Water For Schools

Johannesburg – The number of deaths from cholera in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas has risen to 22.

Gauteng Health and Wellness MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko on Thursday said – while delivering her Budget Vote Speech at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature – that 20 people had died of cholera.

“Over the past few days, we have been grappling with a significant health crisis in the form of the Cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal,” said MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko.

“This challenge has not just underscored our collective fragility, but it has also emphasised the perpetual threats that our public health system faces every single day.

“Therefore, our vigilance, preparedness, and response must be as relentless as the threats we face.”

The number of patients that have been seen at the Jubilee District Hospital as of Wednesday, (24 May 2023), in the afternoon is sitting at 179.

This number includes 18 patients who have been transferred to Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital and Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane.

The department said the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of Cholera was standing at 29.

“To date, 20 people have passed on from the disease outbreak,” the department said.

The total number of patients admitted due to gastrointestinal infection was 78.

“As the Gauteng Provincial Government, we extend our deepest condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones as a result of the diarrhoeal outbreak,” said MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko.

“It is truly a difficult and painful time for many families.

“Losing someone to a preventable disease like Cholera is heart-breaking, and our thoughts are with all the families and communities impacted by this outbreak.

“We continue to upscale our public health education programmes, for knowledge is the most potent weapon in our fight against diseases.”

MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko said increasing awareness about prevention, hygiene, and early detection empowers communities to become frontline defenders against health threats.

The source of the outbreak has not yet been found.

“We, therefore, plead with communities to heed the public health messages and to follow the golden rules; to ensure proper hand hygiene, treating or sterilising water before drinking or cooking, ensuring that food is cooked well and is kept covered and always disinfecting and cleaning surface,” said MEC Nkomo-Ralehoko.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation and to provide the necessary support to the multidisciplinary teams working on the ground.

“We furthermore welcome the contribution made by various organisations towards relief efforts.”
In a cholera prevention development, Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane was spearheading the urgent supply of water to primary and secondary schools in Hammanskraal and Tshwane.

One patient was later, after the MEC’s presentation, reported dead, bringing the number of deaths from cholera in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas to 21.

Meanwhile, the Free State said it has recorded three confirmed cases of cholera with one fatality.

All in all 22 people were known to have died from cholera by the close of business of Thursday.

The Gauteng Department of Education on Thursday said it was embarking on an urgent water delivery plan at 61 schools in Hammanskraal, which will provide access to clean and drinkable water for learners and staff.

“Teaching and learning have not been affected since the discovery of cholera in the area because schools benefited from the supply of water by the municipality,” said the department.

“However, there were water shortages since schools were sharing with the community. The department has since decided to supply schools in the affected areas with water accordingly.

“Sadly, it is unfortunate that a three-year-old child passed away in hospital while receiving medical treatment last week, after allegedly displaying symptoms of Cholera.

“Two other children were also hospitalised for displaying similar symptoms, but were discharged yesterday on Wednesday, 24 May 2023.”

The department said it will continue to supply water to all affected schools and assist the Gauteng Department of Health in advocacy regarding cholera.

Commenting on the child’s death, 

MEC Chiloane said: “We are shocked by the passing of a young soul who is suspected to have contracted Cholera. We wish to express our sincerest condolences to the family and community as a whole”.

MEC Chiloane added: “The department has developed an urgent water delivery plan which is underway at about 61 schools and this plan will continue until there is a lasting solution in the matter.”  

Commenting on Wednesday’s death of an 11-year-old boy who was a Grade 4 learner from Laerskool Booysens in a minibus taxi crash, the department said MEC Chiloane was “saddened”.

At least 24 learners were involved in the crash in Rosslyn, Tshwane, during their morning commute from Mabopane to school.

Two learners were in ICU at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital,

Twenty-one others were also rushed to different hospitals and later discharged after receiving necessary medical treatment.

The department said psycho-Social Support was provided today on Thursday, 25 May 2023, to all those who were affected by the incident at the school, and the same has been extended to the bereaved family of the deceased learner.

“We are devastated by the occurrence of this unfortunate incident, and convey our deepest condolences to the grieving family and school community at large,” said MEC Chiloane.  

“As the department, we call for safety and vigilance on our roads at all times.”