MUCHINGA Province Minister Malozo Sichone says the province still has available facilities to accommodate COVID-19 patients, but that the spaces will soon be filled.

In an interview, Sichone said the available spaces could only accommodate up to 1,500 people.

“We still have available space, we still have capacity, but I know that going forward, the capacity will be exhausted. We are also having our patients taken to Chinsali General Hospital and for those who are asymptomatic we have Robert Makasa University. All the capacity that we have can accommodate up to 1,300 to 1,500 people. But planning ahead, there are several places that have been secured that I cannot talk about now but we will get there,” Sichone said.

When asked what was being done to assist people who were unable to stock up on food during the lockdown, Sichone said the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) was dispatching foodstuffs.

“As I am speaking to you, the DMMU are dispatching foodstuffs; we have a list of vulnerable people in Nakonde and that will be followed keenly so that we can help those that have failed to stock up,” replied Sichone.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya told journalists on Saturday that asymptomatic COVID-19 Nakonde patients would be managed from their homes.

“It will be important for us to do active case management. We will need to manage the cases. If we are talking of high positivity rate, of close to 60 percent, then we should try to see who we are managing and here in Nakonde, we have adopted a community based model. So operation Nakonde has adopted a model that is unique as we look at the number of positive cases. For the elderly, for those with comorbidities, for the young with poor immunity, we will manage them from our health facilities, for the elderly, for those with symptoms, in Nakonde and Chinsali, for those who are positive, yet are asymptomatic, we will manage them in the communities as long the conditions in their homes are suitable or can be aligned to what is provided for in the Public Health Act,” Dr Chilufya said.

“To this effect, we will have a community based managers who will have a number of houses to look at that have people who are positive and are quarantined in their home space and are not putting the rest of the families at risk. But one of the key prerequisites will be to swab the rest of the family members and to ensure that, that member of the family who is positive will have appropriate facilities at home to quarantine them. Failure to adhere to that, will mean that we will have to mandatory admit them to a facility. This is to ensure that the numbers we have in Nakonde that are swelling are accommodated.”

He said indications were that 60 per cent of Nakonde residents were infected.

“It is important to recognize Nakonde as an infected area in line with the Public Health Act. Nakonde has shown a positivity from the previous samples that we have taken and if this be consistent, then the positivity rate in Nakonde is very high. This is the reason why we will expedite processing of samples from Nakonde and from within Muchinga Province to establish the full extent of the challenge but our preliminary estimates put positivity in Nakonde at around 60 per cent. And now this has implications in the response and what we are going to adopt as the response in Nakonde will be resonating with what we see on the ground,” said Dr Chilufya.