HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says President Edgar Lungu has ordered the recruitment of 400 doctors and 3,000 paramedics to enhance the fight against COVID-19.

And Dr Chilufya says President Lungu has also granted incentives to health workers who are at the frontline of the fight against the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya says Zambia has not recorded any case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, living the number of cases at 36.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 update, Wednesday, Dr Chilufya said the ministry would begin the recruitment exercise right away.

“The government of the Republic of Zambia under His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu continues to place health security at the apex of its health agenda to protect the public from any health hazard. To this effect, we are executing a scalable plan that is sensitive to the data that we get as the epidemic evolves in Zambia. Today, in order for us to strengthen our focus on prevention including surveillance, contact tracing and tracing treatment of cases in our isolation facilities as we focus to all interventions that are part of this response; government has made some significant decisions to enhance the response. His Excellency the President of Zambia has authorised the recruitment of 400 doctors in order for us to support the response and further excess of 3,000 paramedics in order to support the response. The recruitment will commence today,” Dr Chilufya said.

“As His Excellency has directed recruitment of all health workers, he has further directed that incentives should be provided for the front line health workers at the frontline of this scourge in order to motivate them to support or to continue to provide service. This is in recognition that these are heroes who are protecting the nation from this public health hazard and in appreciating you and urging you on to continue diligently serving the nation. The President has not only ordered recruitment of more staff but has also ordered that incentives be provided for the frontline staff that are in the cause and details shall be availed in a different setup.”

And Dr Chilufya said the country had not recorded any case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

“During the last 24 hours, 99 cases were conducted and these cases involved people who are contacts to the confirmed cases and the results have shown that non of the 99 cases was positive. So, out of the 99 cases, zero case came out positive. Therefore, in the last 24 hours, we have not confirmed any laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 and Zambia still remains at 36 of COVID-19,” Dr Chilufya said.

“This brings us to the cumulative total of 619 individuals tested by end of yesterday and we will continue testing individuals who are in the matrix of the contacts of the people that have tested positive. All the 36 cases that we have tested remain under isolation and all except one are exhibiting mild or no symptoms. The patient who had severe symptoms continues to be on O2 (oxygen) but he is not deteriorating.”

He said the Ministry had discharged five people that were picked from the rapid response as they all tested negative to COVID-19.

“Over the weekend, out of the alertness of the public our public health operation center was alerted of a number of cases in the community at some lodges and in some residential places. What we have have picked from the five cases that were picked from our rapid response teams in our isolation units is that all of them were negative and have all been discharged. Discharging five people from Levy Hospital, stable and back home is a milestone and we want to appreciate our health workers for that great work,” he said.

“As we continue to implement strict measures including screening at points of entry, the government has secured a suitable place for trucks carrying commodities into and out of other border points while the drivers remain in quarantine for 14 days in designated places. Rapid response teams have been identified that are able to fast track screening and testing of drivers who are carrying essential commodities in order for us not to disrupt trade. Further, a technical team has been dispatched to Livingstone to strengthen capacity for port health services as well as strengthen coordination and response to COVID-19 at district level.”

Dr Chilufya announced that the Ministry had expanded its laboratory capacity and had started doing tests at the Tropical Disease research Center in Ndola.

“We have been conducting tests only in Lusaka at the virology Laboratory at the University Teaching Hospital and also at the Veterinary Laboratory at the University of Zambia. We have now expanded our laboratory capacity and started doing tests at the Tropical Disease Research Center in Ndola and therefore the Northern region will be supported in terms diagnosis capacity,” said Dr Chilufya.