HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says 51 direct contacts of the Kafue man who died on Wednesday have all tested negative to COVID-19.

And Dr Chilufya says three Zambians have died of COVID-19 in the United States of America.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 briefing, Dr Chilufya said family members, friends and all medical staff who treated the Kafue man have all tested negative to the virus.

He announced that the country further carried out 23 more tests which were all negative.

“All the contacts of this patient, the family contacts, the health patients he came in contact with, the stakeholders in the intensive care unit were all swabbed and investigated. So, 51 swabs or test samples were collected from family associates, from family members, friends, people who he came in contact with on his journey and we have established that all the 51 contacts are negative of COVID-19. Further, we did conduct tests in another 23 patients including alerts and repeats and all the 23 were negative. In total, 74 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours and none was positive. Therefore, that leaves the cumulative total of cases for COVID-19 cases in Zambia at 40,” Dr Chilufya said.

“Additionally, three have tested negative twice to COVID-19 and have been discharged today and that reduces the number of patients we have in our care to 10; two on the Copperbelt and eight in Lusaka. Two on the Copperbelt are stable, seven in Lusaka are stable but one remains ill and he is surviving on intermittent oxygen by O2. However, he has posted significant progress in his condition and we remain optimistic. 28 recoveries have been recorded and at the moment, 10 remain under admission.”

Dr Chilufya clarified that the deceased was not a ZANACO employee as he retired from his post at the bank two years ago and was not in direct contact with anyone at the bank.

“Let us remember that the client in question left ZANACO more than two years ago. He retired from Zanaco more than two years ago. The person that went to the bank is not him, it is the daughter who went to the bank for a very short period of time. This daughter is one of the people that we tested and she is negative. We will be conservative on the data that we release based on what is palatable for the public to preserve certain rights of the client in his death and the family. Even the lady who visited the bank has her own matrix of contacts which we have been following up and we will continue to follow up,” Dr Chilufya said.

He said Kafue remained a potential hot spot for the virus and that government would continue with the robust surveillance in that area.

“We are expanding testing to various communities that we think are hot spots. We are still focusing on Kafue despite the first round that have come out negative. Our surveillance teams will remain in Kafue looking at even more networks. We therefore urge all the people that were contacts even those that were negative to continue in quarantine and ensure that they cooperate. Kafue remains a potential hot spot and therefore we will continue to surveillance the area with surveillance testing with aggressive contact testing. Our facilities countrywide will continue hospital based surveillance; individuals who present with flu like symptoms or pneumonia will be tested,” he said.

“It is important to note that in an outbreak investigation, creating a tree, creating a network of contacts of any possible cases is critical. So, it is of vital information to us that we create the matrix, the network the tree of networks of contacts this is to ensure that we are able to pick up any positives early enough to isolate them. We won’t allow a situation where the transmission progresses beyond where it is. What we have embarked on the results that we have got from the deceased patient is just similar to what I have said an aggressive, robust contact tracing mechanism.”

Dr Chilufya further said the Ministry would be stricter on hospitals visitations as they were highly infectious areas.

“I would like to reiterate the call by President Edgar Lungu let us stop hospital visitations because hospital visitations could expose us as visitors to infections. The hospital is a highly infectious area and the reason why we expand human capital for health is mitigate the need for us to have bedsiders. Therefore, we reiterate the call to avoid visiting infected places and the hospitals are infected places not only COVID but anything else. Therefore, we will even be stricter on hospital visitations. We have removed the need to have bedsiders,” he said.

And Dr Chilufya revealed that three Zambians had died of COVID-19 in the United States of America.

“Unfortunately, we have received reports of Zambians in foreign jurisdictions who have contracted this illness and even died. And we have received reports of Zambians who recovered from the illness and are more of number. So far on the record, we do have three Zambians in the United States who contracted the disease and succumbed to it. We also have information of other Zambians who have contracted the disease in a foreign jurisdiction and have recovered. None of our students in China have recorded of having COVID-19,” said Dr Chilufya.