President Edgar Lungu has ordered that business should continue in Nakonde despite the Ministry of Health carrying out mass screening in the border town.

And President Lungu says the country has 920 cumulative cases, meaning there were 54 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, President Lungu says bars will reopen as soon as consultations on how they will conduct business are concluded.

President Lungu also says asymptomatic COVID-19 patients will be allowed to isolate themselves at home.

Addressing the nation today, President Lungu said it was important to open businesses in Nakonde as the border played an important role in the facilitation of trade in the country.

“I am aware that business in Nakonde has greatly been hampered by the recent restrictions as a result of COVID-19. I direct the Ministry of Health to handle the Nakonde situation the way they handled Kafue district where business was allowed to flow as they conducted screening and testing. Nakonde is an income generating border town and its revenue is significant to the economy of our country and, therefore, all the wheels of the economy in our border towns must Be kept running in the context of the new normal,” President Lungu said.

And President Lungu said the country now had 920 cumulative cases.

“Not withstanding these measures on 18th March, Zambia recorded the first two cases of Coronavirus. As of today, Zambia has recorded 920 COVID-19 positive cases against 20,011 people screened and tested. Of the 920 positive cases, the country has recorded seven deaths. A total Of 336 have recovered from the disease,” he said.

“We are now advancing into the cold season and anticipate an increase in the number of persons Suffering from common colds and coughs. This is Likely to exacerbate both the vulnerability and occurrence of COVID-19 cases in our communities. I advise you all to keep warm and avoid unnecessary movements and crowding.”

President Lungu said bars would only be open when consultations on how they should operate were completed.

“Two weeks ago, I eased restrictions on certain outlets, including restaurants, casinos and gymnasiums. I am pleased to note that these businesses are also slowly returning to full operation and ensuring their employees and customers are observing the health guidelines. This is as it should be in these COVID-19 times. Let me hasten to assure you, owners of bars and nightclubs, which I closed in my first COVID-19 address, that I have not forgotten you. Your Businesses are critical to your livelihoods and Our socio-economic fabric,” the Head of State said.

“I would like to inform you that your outlets will be opened once consultations finish about how you should operate in this COVID-19 period. I, therefore, direct the Ministers of Local Government; health; and commerce to quicken these consultations.”

President Lungu also directed home-based isolation for asymptomatic patients.

“I am concerned that we have continued to keep in quarantine citizens who have tested positive but have no symptoms. This state of affairs could just expose these persons to further infection, And as well, it is leading to unproductivity and waste of space for those who are ill,” President Lungu said.

“I, therefore, direct that citizens who have tested positive but are not showing any symptoms, be allowed to go in self-isolation and strictly observe health guidelines. Health officials must conduct surveillance on such persons and I urge their families to be their brother’s and sister’s keepers. Only patients showing COVID-19 Symptoms, and those COVID-19 positive with Underlying illnesses, such as tuberculosis, and HIV and AIDS, must be in quarantine.”

He said non- essential workers should be reabsorbed in the public service with strict adherence to the laid down health guidelines.

“For the public sector, non-essential workers will be slowly re-absorbed in the public service with strict adherence to the laid down health guidelines. I direct the Secretary to the Cabinet to ensure that the public service begins to operate at optimum capacity and effectively in the new normal,” he said.

President Lungu further ordered that COVID-19 updates would only be given on Fridays and Mondays in order to allow for proper analysis.

“I will be addressing the nation on COVID-19 as and when need arises and as the pandemic evolves. I request the Ministry of Health to hold their briefings on Mondays and Fridays to allow ample time for data analysis,” said President Lungu.