MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya says President Edgar Lungu has authorised the invocation of certain provisions of the law to restrict the movement of people in Kafue district today to ensure mass COVID-19 screening and targeted testing.
And Dr Chilufya says Zambia yesterday did not record any new case of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya has discouraged private health facilities from managing patients with respiratory symptoms or fever in their clinics without engaging authorities, as they can be dealing with COVID-19 cases.
At his daily briefing, Tuesday, Dr Chilufya said the country did not record any new case of COVID-19 as of yesterday and that all patients in isolation facilities were stable, including the 74-year-old man who had been on oxgen.
“In the last 24 hours, Zambia did not record any laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of the 46 tests that we conducted. This, therefore, leaves the cumulative number of cases of COVID-19 at 45 with two deaths, 30 recoveries and 13 still under our care in various facilities. All our patients are stable, including the 74-year-old who was surviving on intermittent oxygen support,” Dr Chilufya said.
He, however, emphasized that Kafue, which had been reported as a potential hot spot for the COVID-19, continued to be an area of focus.
The minister said because of that, President Lungu had authorised the invocation of certain provisions of the law to restrict people’s movements in Kafue to facilitate mass screening and targeted testing for Coronavirus.
“Kafue is by description, using the provisions of Public Health Act, an infected area. Kafue has recorded three cases and therefore, there are measures that we need to put in place in order for us to ensure that Kafue is quickly brought under control. In accordance with the Public Health Act Cap 295 of the Laws of Zambia, his Excellency the President of Zambia, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has authorised the invocation of provisions of section 5(1) and 12 (2) of statutory instrument number 21 and 22 of the Laws of Zambia, 2020, to restrict movements of the people in Kafue, in and out of Kafue tomorrow (today) Wednesday. This is to ensure that health workers do mass screening and targeted testing in all the hot spots,” Dr Chilufya said.
He added that this was an important step in disrupting human to human transmission of the virus and further urged Kafue residents to stay home.
“This will help us establish the exact extent of the problem in Kafue and also enable us to quickly identify those who are positive, yet asymptomatic, isolate them and ensure that they do not transmit to the next person. The President appeals to all residents of Kafue to cooperate with health officials during this exercise. Stay home and cooperate with health officials as they go round [conducting] mass screening and targeted testing to ensure that we quickly identify any more cases,” Dr Chilufya said.
“A small flame, if not extinguished, will culminate into a raging fire. This is the reason the President has ordered that Kafue tomorrow (today) be thoroughly combed so that we quickly stop the little flames that may be present in various parts of Kafue to avoid a raging fire that may extend into other parts of the country. We will in the same period be disinfecting public places. We do not expect shops to be open and we will be using various stakeholders to disinfect public places.”
And Dr Chilufya said beginning today, there would be mass screening in health facilities and infected areas.
He further directed all hospitals in Lusaka to ensure that patients who presented fever or respiratory symptoms were tested for COVID-19.
“In order for us to establish the real extent of the problem in the country, we have increased surveillance testing. We have focused on active case finding in our health facilities in Lusaka and in the communities. Therefore, all hospitals in Lusaka are directed to ensure that in all the medical wards and all the paediatric wards and in the out-patient departments, patients who present with the fever or with respiratory symptoms are tested for Covid-19. All people who appear as persons brought in dead will need to be swabbed for Covid-19. This is to ensure that we up the game in terms of case finding so that we isolate cases early to disrupt any human to human transmission,” Dr Chilufya said.
He assured that all health workers in facilities would be supported with personal protective equipment, which included masks.
Dr Chilufya, however, discouraged private health facilities from managing patients with respiratory symptoms or fever in their clinics without engaging authorities, as they could be dealing with COVID-19 cases.
He further urged private health facilities to ensure that all their health workers wore personal protective equipment.
“For the private facilities, it is important that all the health workers in your facilities wear personal protective equipment. The authorised officers will not hesitate to shut down private clinics that do not comply to that because you will be putting the health workers in those clinics at risk and also the common person in the community that comes for review there. I should use this opportunity therefore to discourage private facilities from continuing to manage patients with respiratory symptoms and fever in their jurisdictions without engaging the authorities in these isolation facilities. You could be dealing with a case of COVID-19,” said Dr Chilufya.