ZAMBIA National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) country director Professor Victor Mukonka says the country should support Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya because he is at his lowest.

In an interview, Prof Mukonka said Dr Chilufya did not fake his illness and that it had caused him a lot of stress.

“The minister tested positive. We got all his contacts, we tested them, his close friends and workmates. And from there, we went to second generation and third generation contacts. It applies to everybody regardless of status. So we told him ‘you will be quarantined’ and I found a doctor to look after him. You can’t fake such things, it has caused him a lot of stress. You can die, you cannot play around with it. So what you need is to support him. When your friend is at the lowest, those are the true friends when you become supportive. And you don’t laugh or mock about these things. It can happen to anyone, the infection is not far, it is here in the country so be empathetic and be a voice for the people who take care of your lives,” Prof Mukonka said.

“So if you laugh at me, I am caring and sacrificing for you and in the process I get sick, how fair is it? You expect a lot of sympathy for someone who is sacrificing and taking care of you isn’t it? So if we take leave and run, who will take care of you? People will die. I have no weekend because it is 24 hours, I start my day at 05:00 and at midnight every day. You don’t stigmatize you accord some respect on the issue of privacy because he is going through a difficult period he also has a right.

Prof Mukonka said his suspicion was that Dr Chilufya got infected when he traveled to Nakonde.

“You can’t tell exactly, I don’t know their movements outside the time we interact but I know that Nakonde was a dangerous place to go because you are talking about 60 per cent of the population infected. And you don’t know the surfaces you have touched or who has coughed on you when you are moving and then also the adherence depending on the mask and so on. So you can’t tell, anyone can pick it. If the United Kingdom Prime Minister can pick it, the wife to the Canadian Prime Minister can get it, who are we? Even you can pick it. So don’t laugh at your friends because you see the way God works, it will hit you as well. So there is no one who is immune especially us we are working with patient’s every day. Every morning I am at Levy General Hospital so I am at a higher risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prof Mukonka said he tested negative for COVID-19.

“I was one of the contacts so they tested me too, I do test regularly, I am a medical doctor, I cannot be careless and get into trouble. So all those who are working with me, we swab them every after two weeks,” said Prof Mukonka.

Some stakeholders had doubted news that Dr Chilufya had tested positive for COVID-19, accusing him of trying to outsmart Anti-Corruption officials who were investigating a case of possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.