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Plans in place to deal with disease outbreaks amid CT water crisis

Premier Helen Zille has on Monday met with delegates from the National Disaster Risk Management Department and other bodies in preparation for the day Cape Town's municipal water supply runs dry.

FILE:Western Cape Premier Helen Zille speaks about the province's drought relief budget. Photo: Bertram Malgas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape government officials say plans are in place to deal with possible disease outbreaks as a result of the water shortage.

A provincial delegation, including Premier Helen Zille, earlier on Monday met with National Disaster Management officials to discuss details around the day Cape Town's municipal water supply shuts down.

The latest date for the so-called day zero is 21 April.

The Western Cape government has intensified efforts to mitigate the effects of day zero.

In the City of Cape Town, stringent water restrictions have been rolled out, limiting individual water use to 50 litres per day.

Head of the provincial disaster medicine unit Wayne Smith assures the public community health workers are on full alert to handle disease outbreaks.

“It’s all about increasing the surveillance. Things like listeriosis have now become notifiable which means anybody that picks up that type of illness has to report it, the sooner we pick it up, the faster we control it. I think that is the critical issue.”

Smith further emphasises residents need to be educated on good hygiene and proper sanitation to keep diseases at bay.

Earlier, Zille reiterated the importance of cutting back on daily water use to stave off day zero.

She has written to President Jacob Zuma requesting a national disaster be declared to assist Cape Town during the water crisis.

“The reason that I think it would be useful to declare a national state of disaster is because then everything is in place for anything that we need to do that may require us to shortcut certain systems and we don’t want to, at the moment that we have to do those things urgently, to have then start declaring disasters and going through processes.”

She has stressed day zero can be prevented if residents change their behaviour.

“If everybody in the area serviced by the Voëlvlei and the Theewaterskloof dam and a few other minor dams can keep their water usage to below 50 litres, per person, per day.”

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