The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday declared the cholera outbreak a national disaster and ordered the temporary closure of a primary school in Harare.

Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo declared the state of emergency after touring the Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital.

The death toll from the cholera outbreak, which started off in Glen View and Budiriro, before spreading to the Midlands and Manicaland provinces, has risen to 20.

“We are declaring a state of emergency for Harare. This will enable us to contain cholera, typhoid and whatever is going on,” Moyo said.

READ MORE: Ever thought of donating your pee for a good cause?

“We don’t want any further deaths.”

Over 2 000 cases of cholera have been reported to date.

Moyo also said government had ordered the suspension of lessons at Glen View 5 Primary School until the Harare City Council restores the water supplies, after at least 20 pupils were hospitalised.

Health officials traced the source of the outbreak to a burst sewer pipe, which led to the contamination of borehole water used by residents in the affected areas, the Harare City Council said.

READ MORE: Roll-out of revolutionary new TB drug underway

Boreholes in the affected areas have since been decommissioned and cholera vaccines have been dispensed by Oxfam.

Health and Child Care Secretary Gerald Gwinji said government is worried about the number of cholera deaths recorded.

“We regret this loss of life and urge all those that are unwell with suspected cholera to present early to their nearest clinic for treatment,” he said.

– African News Agency