Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa has castigated Gweru City Council for claiming that the water it supplies to residents was safe for drinking, following the typhoid outbreak that hit the city, saying people should treat water before consuming it.

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Speaking on Wednesday during a tour of health institutions where several patients were admitted following a typhoid outbreak, Parirenyatwa said some patients had indicated not having consumed any borehole, but tap water.

“Some patients abundantly made it clear when we were moving in wards that they drank tap water and had not even touched borehole water. So that points to tap water, definitely that (tap water) is where we have a problem,” Parirenyatwa said.

“We cannot condone and say our water in Gweru is safe. For now, we do not want to hear anyone claiming that our water is safe, as we have seen that it is not quite so.”

Parirenyatwa’s position appeared to question the announcement on Monday by town clerk, Elizabeth Gwatipedza, following a typhoid outbreak in Mkoba 15, 18 and 20, which seemed to suggest that municipal water was safe for drinking.

In her announcement, Gwatipedza had urged residents to refrain from using water from boreholes and wells as it could be contaminated with the bacteria that causes typhoid.

But the Health minister ordered that all households be given water treatment pills as part of measures to contain the typhoid outbreak.

“I may be overriding all statements that have been said that water is safe for drinking because it is not necessarily so (safe),” he said.

Parirenyatwa also said health officials were going to carry out tests to determine if borehole water was not contaminated with chemicals.

He said the city needed to take a cautious approach as indications were that the those affected were not confined to Mkoba 15, 18, 19 and 20, but to other parts of Gweru such as Mambo and Mtapa.

“In the past, there have been mining activities in these areas and we also have to check if there are no chemicals that could have contaminated borehole water because some symptoms are not typical typhoid,” Parirenyatwa said.

Reports indicated that the disease had so far claimed six lives and affected over 100 residents.

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