HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the country has recorded three new positive COVID-19 cases bringing the total number of cases to 43.

At his daily COVID-19 update yesterday, Dr Chilufya claimed all contacts to the Kafue man who died at the University Teaching Hospital had tested 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 had said.

But at his briefing today, Dr Chilufya said two cases out of three were in contact with a confirmed case that traveled to a COVID-19 high risk jurisdiction, while the other was a primary contact to the deceased Kafue man.

“In the last 24 hours, Zambia has recorded three new cases of COVID-19. The first case involves a 58-year-old man who is a contact to a confirmed case that traveled to one of the COVID high risk jurisdictions and the second is his 13-year-old daughter. The third case involves a 41-year-old female who is a primary contact to the patient that died at the University Teaching Hospital and was followed up as part of the people that came into contact with him in the last 14 days. All the new cases have now been put in isolation at the Levy Mwanawasa General University Teaching Hospital. This therefore brings the total number cases that we have in Zambia to 43. Further, we have discharged two cases and therefore under our care, we still remain with 11 patients; two on the Copperbelt and 11 in Lusaka,” Dr Chilufya said.

“The first contacts for the deceased [Kafue man] family members who looked after him and people who frequented his house as children, anybody close to him, the driver all those tested negative. When we went out of that ring and looked at other acquaintances such as his fiancè who was reported [at his place] for a number of days prior…when we went into that ring, we picked up a positive. We need to find out from the positive that we have found in this case where did they go? Who did they come in contact with? Then we will ensure that we track everybody. I wish to assure the public that public response teams have intensified investigations in Kafue and in parts of Lusaka where the two new cases have been found. We are in the communities creating matrices of contacts and ensuring that we swab and test of all these. As at 17 hours yesterday, we managed to track an additional 110 contacts to the deceased patient including more family members and acquaintances.”

He revealed that the two patient were brought into isolation through a beyond normal way of persuasion as they breached the provisions of the Public Health Act.

“As I speak about the first two patients, I just want to make a very strong appeal to all citizens, those who are breaching quarantine rules; those that are abrogating provisions of the public health act; those that are defying directives that were given in the Presidential address that they will not be at liberty to do so and put the rest of the public at risk. It is important to know that as you defy rules of quarantine; as you hide, you abrogate the provisons set out in the public health act and as you defy the guidance that was given by President Edgar Lungu to the nation you are putting your family and the rest of Zambians at risk,” he warned.

“We have noted with concern that there are individuals that have been defying quarantine rules and there have been individuals who have been hiding from the surveillance team. It is important to note that we will not rest until we bring you to our isolation facilities so that we protect the bigger population. So it is with regret that I say some patients that have been brought into isolation after persuasion that is beyond normal.”

Dr Chilufya door to door testing would only be conducted if there was a clear need for it.

“What we are emphasizing is the need to detect early testing so that we put them aside. Door to door testing is only informed by evidence that this place is a red hot spot. We will only do that when there is an indication to do that. Surveillance testing would be very well informed and thoroughly enough to pick up any potential COVID-19 cases. We have expanded our testing platforms to include more and more of community based testing beyond just the contacts that we are led to; beyond just the alerts. We will need to create logical epilogical links to COVID-19 so that we can justify the testing we are talking about. There should be a reason that justifies door to door testing. As we speak today, it is not about lack of resources but it is justification for that door to door,” said Dr Chilufya.