HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has tested positive to COVID-19, becoming the second Cabinet Minister to contract the virus after Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya.

Meanwhile, Zambia has recorded 137 cases of COVID-19 out of the 4,364 tests conducted in the last five days, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 1,057 while recoveries stand at 753 with seven deaths.

Giving the 61st COVID-19 update at Ndeke House, Wednesday, Secretary to Cabinet Dr Simon Miti said Dr Chilufya had contracted the virus and that all his close contacts were being sought after for swabbing.

“I wish to inform you this afternoon that the Minister of Health, Dr Chitalu Chilufya took a COVID-19 test and the results have come back positive. However, he is currently feeling fine. But in line with the current health guidelines, he has commenced self-isolation and will remain under isolation until he is discharged by health authorities based on the set criteria. The Ministry of Health officials have begun reaching out to his close contacts so that they are screened and tested. Dr Chilufya will continue supporting the COVID-19 response under the new normal, living with the coronavirus under the ICT platforms. So he will continue giving support virtually. His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has wished Dr Chilufya well as he continued with self-isolation and monitoring by health personnel,” Dr Miti said.

And Dr Miti urged citizens to respect Siliya’s privacy.

“As we are all aware, honourable Dora Siliya, who has being instrumental also in the fight against COVID-19, publicly announced that she was tested positive for the virus a few days ago. Honorable Siliya remains stable and has self-isolated in line with the standard medical practice and criteria. We applaud her courage and urge the public to respect her right to privacy as well as ensure that she has a speedy recovery. In line with our strategy, the response team is tracing all her contacts,” Dr Miti said.

Meanwhile, Dr Miti said Zambia had in the last five days recorded 137 new cases.

“As the cold season approaches, we have noticed an increase in the number of respiratory cases including coughs and colds. Today, we report 137 cases of COVID-19 out of 4,264 tests which were conducted in the last five days. The cases have been recorded through community and points of entry screening, contact tracing and health facility surveillance. The breakdown is as follows; 56 were from routine screening where we had Lusaka with 19 cases, Nakonde 27, Chilanga had five, three in Ndola, one in Chinsali and one in Kitwe. Then also we had 33 truck drivers and 24 of those are from Nakonde, four from Ndola, two from Chipata and one from Chirundu. We also had 26 health care workers all from Lusaka. We had 16 contacts to known cases and those are from Nakonde, seven, Lusaka, six, Kabwe one and Mansa two. Then we had four hospital surveillance cases from UTH. We also had two from points of entry at Nakonde and that total gives us 137 cases,” Dr Miti said.

“I wish also to mention that we have discharged 443 patients form our isolation facilities. 392 from Muchinga Province, 39 from Levy Mwanawasa isolation centre and six from the Copperbelt. Five from Kabwe and two health workers in Lusaka that have tested negative to COVID-19. Therefore, the cumulative number of cases is now 1,057 and we are still at seven deaths and we have recorded cumulatively 753 recoveries. We continue to monitor persons at high risk and to date, a total of 4,680 have successfully completed the 14 day mandatory quarantine and furthermore, our response team has cleared as non-cases a total of 2,530 alerts which have been notified.”

And Dr Miti gave an update of the cases recorded in various epicenters across the country.

“In Nakonde, 2,994 people have been screened so far and in the last five days, we’ve recorded 35 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative to 531 so far. The positive cases in Nakaonde have been 154 who are truck drivers. In Chirundu, since 2nd May, 2020, 8,322 persons have been screened including 6,000 truck drivers and 1000 of those were through mass screening and the rest trough tests and contact tracing. Out of Chirundu, we’ve had 37 positive cases, 35 of them have been truck drivers who have been identified out of the samples that have been tested so far. Coming to Lusaka district which was the first district to be affected by COVID-19 in the country, in the last five days, 17 people have tested positive in Lusaka. We have continued to screen alerts in health facilities and health care workers on the response. We will soon launch a targeted screening and testing at COMESA market,” said Dr Miti.

“On the Copperbelt, 18 cases have been recorded on the Copperbelt in the last five days. A similar intervention to the one that we did in Kafue will be implemented on the Copperbelt Province, targeting Ndola, Chilabombwe and Chingola districts. The Kasumbalesa border area is also targeted. In Kabwe, we clearly note an increase in the cases being recorded in Kabwe, cumulatively we’ve recorded 33 cases, seven of which were recorded in the last five days. We are yet to do an intervention like the one which was done in Kafue in the next couple of weeks.”