DEMOCRATIC Party president Harry Kalaba says reducing the number of daily COVID-19 briefings will inadvertently relax the measures required to effectively fight COVID-19.
Last Friday, President Edgar Lungu ordered the Ministry of Health to restrict COVID-19 updates to Mondays and Fridays only. But this week, the Ministry of Health said it would only hold a briefing on Friday.
But in an interview, Kalaba said it was better for the Ministry of Health to give daily updates.
“I think we should still have had technocrats giving briefings, the problem is that politicians like Dr Chitalu Chilufya (Health Minister) were trying to use it to advance their own political capital. It is just the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) who has disturbed him. Otherwise, he wanted to use it for political capital, which is not right. There is nothing wrong with Ministry of Health releasing daily briefings on COVID-19 issues, there is nothing wrong. What was wrong was to be having press briefings by Dr Chitalu Chilufya everyday as if that was the only job, instead of him fighting the pandemic,” Kalaba argued.
“My view and our view, as Democratic Party is that, the Ministry of Health Experts, who are doing the actual job could have been releasing these things so that we don’t sleep because neglecting the fight against COVID-19 would be to our own detriment. We should have been seeing a situation that we are told on a daily basis how Zambia is performing. Waiting for Friday and Monday to hear; and for Monday, it’s only Saturday and Sunday, Monday they announced and then you wait for Friday, is relaxing measures. Let politicians take up their rightful roles and let technocrats be announcing to the nation. There is nothing wrong for them releasing information on the challenges of COVID-19.”
And Kalaba asked government to explain the measures that they had put in place to avoid transmission of COVID-19 in Nakonde now that business had resumed in the district.
“This is what we have been talking about; Nakonde has been relaxed. What has been done to relax Nakonde? So, it is just jokes happening! The President did not tell us the measures he has put in place for him to allow the free-flow of business in Nakonde, he didn’t tell us. What we were told was that they were over 300 people, who had Coronavirus, now today, Nakonde is back to normal; what measures has government put in place? Have they done what Uganda has done? Because Uganda is giving face masks, even to six-year olds to be wearing around, have they done that? If they have done that, that is a good measure because you can’t keep people in their homes without providing for them,” said Kalaba.
“That is one mistake that government made when you are advocating for a lock-down; you must be ready, even materially so that people can have some mealie meal in their homes; so that they can have some food in their homes, while they are observing the Coronavirus issue. So, without that, it is an academic exercise.”