HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has declared the University of Zambia (UNZA) new residence a public quarantine facility for truck drivers bringing essential goods in the country.

And Dr Chilufya says Zambia has not recorded any new case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours while a third patient had been discharged.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 update, Sunday, Dr Chilufya assured the university community that necessary measures had been set up to avoid infection transmission and that only a portion of UNZA had been declared into a hospital for quarantine purposes.

“We are working in conjunction with our bilateral partners to ensure that there is no disruption in the movement of goods and services. To this effect, truck drivers who are being admitted in the country are being screened at the border and those who are found to be asymptomatic, they are being entered in our tracking records and are being escorted to the points where they are delivering their goods and thereafter, are being taken into mandatory quarantine places and so far, we have received 125 trucks from Livingstone and the drivers have been offloading and are now quarantined in the facility of isolation. In exercise of the powers contained in the Public Health Act, Cap (2) 95 of the laws of Zambia and Statutory Instrument number 22 of 2020, I as Minister of Health have declared and designated the new residence at the University of Zambia Great East Road campus as a public quarantine facility where we are now quarantining some of these essential workers in the name of drivers bringing essential goods in the country,” Dr Chilufya said.

“These have been quarantined following their arrival under escort by Ministry of Home Affairs from Livingstone. This is part of government’S strategy for minimizing importation of COVID-19 from COVID high risk jurisdictions. I wish to assure the university community that the area remains barricaded with a secure entry and existing points and we have put in the necessary measures to avoid infection transmission. And to enhance infection prevention measures, there should be therefore no anxiety or panic as only a portion of UNZA has been by statutory provision declared into a hospital facility for quarantine purposes.”

Dr Chilufya warned that there was a risk of introduction of new cases through points of entry which remained opened.

“Zambia has received additional reagents and sample collection swabs and devices from the Africa CDC and the testing capacity has been increased and you will see more tests for contacts and for routine surveillance testing. This will enhance identification of suspects early and isolation of such suspects so that we disrupt the human to human transmission. There is still risk of introduction of new cases in the country through the ports of entry which are open if we do not put in or heighten surveillance activities. It is therefore a stringent call to action for all of us to ensure that we cooperate with the authorities, to emphasize the need for everyone coming into the country to cross through designated points and to observe the 14 day mandatory quarantine period for those who are from COVID high risk jurisdictions. In all we do, let there be social distancing a minimum of 1 meter be it in our trading places,” Dr Chilufya said.

And Dr Chilufya announced that one more person had been discharged from the isolation facility.

“The Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) conducted a total of 56 tests in the last 24 hours and there were no new positive cases. Therefore, the total number of cases remains to be 39 with one death. A total so far of 965 tests has been done today. We would also like to mention that one more patient has posted a second negative test to COVID-19 and has been discharged home. That brings the total number of patients who were admitted to the isolation facilities with positive status and now have attained two negative test status and are asymptomatic to three. All the patients that are remaining under our care; two on the Copperbelt, 34 in Lusaka remain to be stable, are being looked after by our technical staff,” he said.

“5,968 persons classified as high risk due to travel history remain under our careful watch and are interacting with our surveillance on a daily basis and a total of 1,544 have completed the 14 day quarantine period and are being discharged from the mandatory quarantine period. Thanks to the community and various stakeholders for the various alerts that we have gotten to our public health emergency center that is being manned by Professor (Victor) Mukonka we have got 280 alerts and out of these alerts, no one has been found positive all of the have been classified as non-cases and have been sent back home.”

Dr Chilufya explained that the virus was transmitted through airborne or droplet inhalation.

“The statistics look encouraging and promising however, it is not time to relax, it’s not time to relent, It is time to remain highly sensitive and alert. This is the reason why His Excellency the President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has reinforced the activities of the ZNPHI. This is a reason why in executing the scalable plan, various interventions have been introduced including restrictions of public gatherings and like he emphasized yesterday, public gatherings remain restricted be it sporting activities, religious activities, or any other activities of an entertainment nature. Let us ensure that we maintain social distancing and it is important to note that this infection is transmitted through airborne or droplet inhalation. This infection is transmitted through airborne. When you talk about droplet inhalation, we are talking about introduction into the respiratory system, it doesn’t not only happen through droplet inhalation it may happen because those droplets are settled on particles or on surfaces and when you touch those droplets you introduce them into your respiratory system. So it is important to note that the position has been consistent it is through airborne transmission, droplet inhalation,” said Dr Chilufya.