MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya says a medical doctor from Chilenje Hospital and three other individuals from Kafue, Matero and George Compound all tested positive to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 74.

And Dr Chilufya has called on the community to support President Edgar Lungu’s plan to stop COVID-19 before the cold season as the cold can complicate the health crisis.

Speaking during a briefing, Wednesday, Dr Chilufya announced that the medical doctor had attended to the 19-year-old girl from Bauleni Compound, who passed away last weekend.

He said the two other cases in Matero and George Compounds were discovered after some members of the public tipped the Ministry, while the one from Kafue resulted from mass screening.

“Zambia, in the last 24 hours, did conduct 322 tests and out of these tests, four were reported to be positive. That brings the cumulative number of cases in Zambia to 74. The number of recoveries remains at 35, deaths three and active under our management now has gone up to 36. These patients are admitted to various isolation facilities and are all stable,” Dr Chilufya said.

“A 52-year-old man of Nangogwe area in Kafue, who was screened during the community operation in the area was tested positive yesterday (Tuesday); a 30-year-old doctor based at Chilenje Hospital, who was screened as a contact to the late lady, who died at Chilenje. Furthermore, a 23-year-old woman of Matero was tested following an alert from the public. Someone from the community phoned the Command Centre and reported that there was a neighbour, who had symptoms and they were worried. The rapid response teams moved into Matero and swabbed the 23-year-old and she tested positive and is now under our care. Furthermore, a 63-year-old man of George Compound, who was also tested following an alert from the public tested positive. All these patients have now joined other patients in our facilities.”

He said mass screening and targeted testing would continue in some parts of Lusaka and further urged citizens to cooperate in order to identify new cases and isolate them.

“Additional community operations in targeted areas will continue. Tomorrow (today), the team shall focus by and large on Emmasdale and Chaisa to ensure that we screen the areas there to fish out any positive cases and isolate them. We will continue mass screening and targeted testing in Lusaka. And as we move from Emmasdale and Chaisa, we will be going into Matero and George Compound and I urge the public to cooperate. If you cooperate with the staff during the mass screening and targeted testing, the outcome will be that we will be able to pick out all the ill (people), stop the transmission of person-to-person and, therefore, manage to stop the spread in the communities,” he said.

And Dr Chilufya announced that the results of the suspicious death involving a 52-year-old Choma resident, who died at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Monday, would be availed today.

He emphasized that government recognized the efforts of health workers and would do all it had to do to ensure that they were protected at the front-line.

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya hoped that the community supported the President’s plan to stop COVID-19 before the cold season because the winter season could escalate the health crisis.

“This epidemic can be stopped if we put in measures that stop new infections and human-to-human spread. The strategy I emphasize, involves preventing new cases. Those cases, yes, will be increasing in next few days because of the mass screening and testing. The surge is on. So, the numbers will be going up until we reach the peak and plateau. How far we will go will be dependent on how effective our response is. That’s why I’m making a call that we all adhere to the directives that President Lungu has given. So, this epidemic can last for a very long time, it can last for a short time. What is important is measures that we put in, the adherence, the compliance, the collective effort,” he said.

“The cold weather does not help. And it is our hope that you and I, the community and myself will support the President’s plan to stop COVID-19 so that we stop it way before we get into the cold season, June. Because the cold season, which is also flu season, does complicate matters.”

Meanwhile, Airtel Networks Zambia Plc donated K5 million towards the fight against COVID-19, while Lafarge Zambia Plc equally donated 8,000 masks, 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and 1,000 Romeo hand washing bars of soap.

University of Lusaka (UNILUS), through the Ministry of Higher Education, donated 500 mattresses and 500 blankets to be distributed in the quarantine centers, while HLB Zambia equally chipped in with 30,000 examining gloves, 3,750 masks and 200 sanitizers.