Tap water flows out of a faucet. File picture: Eric Thayer/Reuters
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health on Wednesday urged residents of Vryheid and surrounding areas in the northern part of the province to only drink bottled water or water that had been disinfected. 

This followed the admission of scores of people to Vryheid Hospital who were suffering from diarrhoea earlier in the week. According to the management of the Zululand Health District, 54 patients were treated between March 22 and 24.  The patients were from Bhekuzulu, Lakeside and Vryheid town.

"The Abaqulusi District Municipality has been placed under administration following certain irregularities, including failure to guarantee the provision of water that is safe for human consumption," said KZN health in a statement. 

"On 26 March 2019, a further six patients were admitted to hospital with diarrhoea, including two from Sasko and another two from the Dumbe-Bilanyoni area. While Environmental Health Practitioners have begun taking samples of water in the affected areas and elsewhere, the province’s Communicable Diseases Control has also taken stool samples from patients in order to determine the exact cause of their illness."

Following a meeting of emergency response teams on Sunday, another high-level meeting was due to take place on Thursday at Abaqulusi, said the statement. 

The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs had sent a team of engineers and infrastructure specialists to "have a closer look at the situation". 

The local health district had begun loud-hailing and handing out flyers on the safe use of water.  

Residents are urged to u se only bottled water or water that has been disinfected with one teaspoon or 5ml of bleach into 20 to 25 litres of water. Mix well and wait for at least 30 minutes before consumption, t hen boil the water for at least a minute (let it bubble) to make it clean and safe.
  • Wash all raw food with clean, treated or boiled water

  • Wash your hands before handling or eating food

  • Wash food utensils in clean, treated or boiled water

  • Protect food from fly contamination and prevent fly contamination at home

  • Use proper toilet facilities only and wash hands after use

  • Do not allow children to play in dirty pools, rivulets or stormwater outlets

  • Do not contaminate rivers or leave sewage where it can be washed into a river by rain.

African News Agency (ANA)