File photo shows street vendors wait for clients in central Harare, Zimbabwe, June 8, 2015. (Xinhua)
HARARE, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Harare City Council has issued a 48-hour ultimatum for all illegal food vendors in the city to stop operations as it steps up efforts to contain a typhoid outbreak that has claimed two lives so far.
The move by the local authority follows a typhoid outbreak that has been raging since late December 2016, with more than 300 suspected cases and 22 confirmed cases of the water borne disease having been recorded so far.
Authorities are blaming poor water and sanitation, uncollected refuse and uncontrolled vending of foodstuffs as the major factors behind the outbreak that has been mainly concentrated in the densely populated suburb of Mbare in Harare.
"We need to be cruel if we are to contain the outbreak and the ban on vending is a welcome development. People should buy food in licensed premises which meet the required standards of the Public Health Act and other council by-laws," city health services director Prosper Chonzi was quoted as saying by the Herald newspaper on Wednesday.
Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said the situation on the ground had forced them to take the drastic measure and added that the ban would be reviewed depending on improvements on the ground.
Illegal food vendors have flooded the streets of Harare as they seek to fork out a living in the wake of high unemployment levels due to the poor performing economy.
According to the health ministry, the country needs 250,000 U.S. dollars to remove waste and sanitize the country's sewer system.
Water-borne diseases have become endemic in Zimbabwe's urban cities in recent years due to deteriorating water and sanitation conditions.
In 2008, the country recorded its worst cholera outbreak in history when more than 4,000 people died from the disease.