HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced six new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 35.

At a media briefing, Dr Chilufya disclosed that four out of the six cases were directly linked to the Pakistan cluster and among them was a domestic worker.

“We managed to run some further tests on the direct contacts of the people who initially tested positive from COVID-19 and on the second generation of contacts so we did run some 51 tests and we did come up with results that I am talking about this morning. We have again isolated six cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number of cases that have laboratory confirmed to 35. These are directly related to the cluster that travelled to Pakistan or their contacts,” Dr Chilufya announced.

“Four of the cases out of these six are directly linked; a couple who are family friends to the same cluster are also part of the group. A domestic worker is also part of this group. A congregant, who met with the affected cluster at a religious gathering is also part of this group. There was an individual who travelled from India via the Dubai route and shared the same flight with those that came on EK17 Emirate flight on 18th March, 2020.”

He said that local transmissions had risen to nine, which was becoming a source of concern.

“It is important to note the total number of cases that have now been as a result of local transmission stands at nine, cumulatively. The fact that we have person-to-person transmission should raise alarm for those of you who are breaching the laws on bars, nightclubs and casinos. For those of you, who continue to hold family engagements where there are more than five or six people, social gatherings, such as parties be aware that there is evidence of person-to-person transmission, which then means that in your gathering there may be one or two people, who are then transmitting to the rest, and the rest of you will become points of transmission where you are going back to. So there is no benefit to anyone defying that. The threat we should all be alarmed with is the person-to-person transmission, which we have noted,” Dr Chilufya said.

When asked to reveal any information on the domestic worker’s residential area, Dr Chilufya said that information would only be revealed at a later stage.

“We will share all the information that is required to be shared to the public, while preserving some basics principles. A number of these domestic workers that work for these particular individuals, some are in-house so it doesn’t mean that the domestic worker comes from a compound. If there is any information that is critical for a particular area you will see us going out there sensitizing and maybe doing some structural adjustments. So, for now, we are going to update you on any further data. Remember, the most important thing is not even where such a domestic worker stays because if you are a contact, the most important thing is who they met. So, contact tracing is what is fundamental,” he replied.

He said all the confirmed cases were stable, while the patient who was in a critical condition was not deteriorating.

“All confirmed cases are in stable condition and are in isolation. The case that we described yesterday (Sunday) was ill, but stable, is still admitted at our isolation facility. The condition remains the same; it is not deteriorating or improving, that is what ill or stable means. The patient continues to be monitored by our specialist staff at Levy Mwanawasa General University. We continue to trace and test all contacts. We have moved away from the first generation contacts to the second generation, which means the contacts to the contacts,” he added.

“Having noticed the increase in person-to-person transmission, we have secured more isolation facilities for asymptomatic and stable patients who test positive. These facilities will be by statutory provision be declared as isolation hospitals where we keep patients from isolation, and these patients will be closely monitored by our staff. We have deployed more surveillance staff in the communities; we have trained more clinical staff and we have recognized our various technical teams, including the case and diagnosis teams, to ensure that we have efficiencies in all the technical groupings.”

He reiterated that Zambia would not risk introducing individuals into the country that were from COVID high-risk countries without being certified COVID-free.

“We have noted that a number of jurisdictions have closed their borders, while a number of truckers have gone throughout borders and are being cleared at our various borders. The rule of thumb remains: if you are coming from COVID-19 (high-risk countries), you, as the truck driver, will be quarantined at ports of entry. We are actively in engagement with the Truckers Association of Zambia and the Ministry of Transport and Communications where we have introduced a relay system so that other drivers, who are COVID-free, can take over the trucks into their destination. Zambia will not risk introducing individuals into the country from COVID high-risk countries without being certified COVID-free,” said Dr Chilufya.