HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the high number of brought-in-dead persons that have succumbed to COVID-19 is worrying.

And Dr Chilufya says the country has recorded 324 new cases and 18 deaths in the last 11 days.

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya has observed that surge COVID-19 cases is a result of laxity on the prevention regulations.

At a briefing, Tuesday, Dr Chilufya said he was concerned about the surge in brought in dead persons.

“From our routinely collected data we note a spike in the number of persons brought in dead and even if we compare between January and May 2020 and the corresponding period between January and May 2019, there is clearly a spike in the number of brought-in-deaths. The analysis of our data shows that Lusaka recorded 31 out of the 42 deaths, Mongu three, Ndola five, Kitwe two and Kafue one. If we look at the age range of the cases that we have recorded as deaths, they range from two years to 88 years. We also see that there is a male/female distribution of 50 percent male and 43 percent female,” Dr Chilufya said.

“If we further dig in, in the cause of deaths, we see that the vast majority are those that have underlying medical conditions and these have picked out as immune suppression, mostly HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases, various non-communicable diseases. Kidney disease, malaria, brain tumor, tuberculosis, alcohol abuse and of grave concern are sudden deaths with no known symptoms. The number of BIDs signal one cause of worry that COVID is rapidly killing those who get affected quickly in the communities and this shall inform our cause of action.”

Dr Chilufya said Lusaka was now back as the hotspot as it recorded more deaths and cases in the last 11 days.

“Zambia has in the last 11 days recorded a surge in the number of Covid cases and Covid related deaths, recording a total of 324 cases and 18 Covid related deaths, 14 which have been brought in dead. Lusaka District is back as a hotspot recording an increase in the number of cases in the last 11 days. Cumulatively, in the last 11 days, we have recorded 1,895 cases with a total of 18 deaths. Now this brings the total of deaths cumulative to 42 while we have recorded a total of 1,412 recoveries from the time the pandemic started. In the last 11 days, 153 people have recovered. From inception, Zambia has recorded a total of 1,895 cases, a total of 42 deaths and 1,412 recoveries,” Dr Chilufya said.

“Of these 42 deaths, 24 were brought in dead. In the last 11 days, the positive cases that we have recorded will be disaggregated as follows: contacts to known cases and these are 67, those that were picked out of health facility based screening 48, Truck drivers that were picked out from various points of screening 63, and those that were picked from various points that where we are doing community screening and those were 105. Health workers that have been screened routinely the number is 9. And I as I eluded earlier, 14 were brought in dead.”

He said the undesirable behavior of people needed to be immediately checked.

“We have seen that the cold season has seen an escalation in cases and deaths globally and locally. The President cautioned on the risk of COVID-19 resurgence if we did not adhere to the prescribed public health measures during the adoption of the new normal. Observations made in Zambia have shown laxity in compliance to public health and social measures. Less people are wearing masks in public today, less public places are enforcing public health and social measures including mandatory hand washing. People are gathering in public places such as restaurants, markets and public transport without adhering to social measures and public health measures. We would like to sound a warning that at this pace, we will continue to see increase in the number of cases and deaths. The undesirable behaviors that we are seeing in our populations in Zambia need to be checked immediately,” Dr Chilufya said.

He said public gatherings would not be held in an infected area without permission from an authorized officer.

“Let me use this opportunity to inform the nation that anchoring on powers vested in me by His Excellency President Lungu, I have revoked and replaced regulation number 9 in SI 22 of 2020 on the aspect of restrictions of gatherings. We shall now read ‘a public ceremony or gathering shall not be held in an infected area without permission from an authorized officer’. Previously, it used to read about the number five and following the presidential repel, it did read 50. In our attempt that we retain to a new normal, we have made a decision based on science that gatherings that conform to public health measures will be allowed and that include; ability to maintain social distancing of a meter, ensuring that all that are in those public gatherings are in masks, ensuring that there are facilities for hand washing and ensuring that the period of those gatherings reduced. Outdoor functions are preferable to indoor functions. Indoor functions are permissible as long as you maintain the social distance,” said Dr Chilufya.