HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has discouraged any non essential movements to Lusaka due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in Zambia’s capital.
And Dr Chilufya says one of the 29 patients is severely ill because he had previous underlying health issues.
Speaking to journalists, Sunday, Dr Chilufya said the country had recorded one more positive case of COVID-19, bringing the total number of laboratory confirmed cases to 29.
“In the last 24 hours, Zambia has recorded one new case of COVID-19. We carried out 50 tests in the last 24 hours and only one was positive. This brings the total number of cases to 29 and the new case is a Lusaka based male adult with a history of travel to Pakistan and who returned aboard Emirates flight EK713 on 18th March 2020. We have transferred him to our isolation centers and all his contacts are being tested in line with the standards protocols. The previous 28 patients are in our two facilities one in Lusaka and one in Masaiti. The new case is part of the cluster that traveled to Pakistan,” Dr Chilufya said.
“We would like to emphasize the importance of non essential travels; do not travel outside the country even within the country. It is not necessary to travel when it is not essential! Don’t come to Lusaka when you don’t need to, we have 27 cases here and we are following up contacts stay where you are, stay home! limit your chance of contracting [it from] someone with COVID-19.”
And Dr Chilufya said one of the 29 patients was severely ill but stable.
“One patient out of the 29 is severely ill but stable. The rest of the patients remain very stable. The patient who is ill has an underlying chronic respiratory disorder. This patient is now being supported with oxygen but I emphasize this is a patient that has been in the care of health workers at a private facility suffering from a chronic respiratory disorder. This is a superimposed infection; this patient is receiving specialist attention in our facilities. He has both history of contact with people who traveled to COVID high risk countries Pakistan and history of travel to South Africa,” he said.
Dr Chilufya appealed to all passengers who were on Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Kenyan Airways, South African Airlines on March 15 to remain in self quarantine.
“Our disease intelligence and rapid response teams continue to trace and test all contacts and as surveillance activities continue, we expect to find cases that are positive depending on contact with people who traveled to COVID risk countries or history of travel with those jurisdictions. Our teams continue to be alert and pick such positive cases and isolate them for management. May I also make an appeal to all returning passengers on Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, South African Airlines from 15th March and have not yet been reached by our surveillance team to remain in self quarantine as stipulated in SI number 22 of 2020,” Dr Chilufya said.
He warned all bar owners who were defying President Lungu’s directive that they would have their licences revoked.
“We want also to use this opportunity to warn those business men who are defying this directive (Presidential Directive) that they will not only be shut down but they risk having their licences revoked. Our teams are working in a multisetoral, multi disciplinary manner to ensure compliance; Home Affairs, immigration, police are working with authorized officers from Local government, from Ministry Health to ensure compliance. This is meant to protect the public from COVID-19 and any other public nuisance ,” Dr Chilufya said.
“The statement that the President gave was clear; bars, restaurants, casinos are closed. Don’t start interpreting in your own way; you start saying I can open the bar people can come and buy then they go home, that is not what the statement says; it simply says bars, casinos, restaurants are closed! Any attempt at interpreting results is misinterpretation. Should you be found defying that, you will be guilty of committing an offence contrary to provisions in Statutory Instrument 21 and 22 and the full wrath of the law will face you.”
And speaking on Saturday during a COVID- 19 update Dr Chilufya explained how those using protective masks should use them correctly.
“The mask is meant to protect you from getting the infection and to prevent the next person from getting it. A mask, first of all, these masks are disposable; these masks are not usable for days, months and so on and so forth. There are different types of masks but the common masks that you are seeing out there; these are not masks you will share with another person; this a mask that you put on today and it is not a mask that you say you go and wash repeatedly, it is only good for a few hours,” said Dr Chilufya.