HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says there is a sharp spike in the COVID-19 positivity rate.

And Dr Chilufya says the country has recorded 71 new cases and one death in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, a specialist in infectious diseases at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital Dr Francis Mupeta says some people are developing complications after recovering from COVID-19.

Speaking during the COVID-19 daily updates, Monday, Dr Chilufya said there were many more cases in the communities that were being picked up.

“When you look at the positivity rate in Zambia, we are seeing a sharp spike. If you look at the week beginning 1st June, we were at about 1.8 percent positivity and when you look at the way we are proceeding, we are now at 25.4 percent. This is a very steep rise in our positivity. It means that there are many more cases in the community that are picking up. And every week we are seeing a rise in positivity and this needs to be stopped. The rate at which we are moving is alarming,” Dr Chilufya said.

He warned against having meetings.

“In the last two weeks a Head of Department did call for a meeting for officers from other provinces and this meeting was held in a congregate set up and what we saw in that meeting was one officer from one province having very mild symptoms and hardly noticed. And as we speak today, all those provincial heads are now nursing COVID-19. The message is this: avoid meetings, you can have meetings virtually and avoid unnecessary congregate settings; you can’t afford to do that,” he advised.

Dr Chilufya said 21 patients were currently on oxygen.

“If you look at the test profile for Zambia, in the last 24 hours, we did 209 tests and we recorded 71 positive cases and out the places where these cases are coming from, you are seeing cases in Lusaka, Solwezi, Ndola and Kalulushi. We have 21 patients on oxygen in our COVID facilities and two are in a critical state. On a positive note, we have discharged 465 cases. Zambia has been ramping up the number tests and so far we have tested 76,727 cases and recorded a total number of 4,552 cases,” Dr Chilufya explained.

“Cumulatively, our country now stands at 2,815 recoveries. Deaths still stand at 140. And out of these, when you classify them, 98 are COVID associated deaths while 39 are pure COVID deaths. Seven contacts to known cases in Lusaka and Solwezi. One health worker in Lusaka. 19 detected through hospital screening in Ndola Lusaka and Solwezi. 44 identified during routine screening in Ndola and Kalulushi. One death in Levy Mwanawasa Isolation centre.”

And Dr Mupeta advised members of the public not to trivialize any symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have 80 patients in the facility. COVID is not a hoax. It is both a concern and a worry to us as doctors and nurses managing these patients because it is unpredictable. It is a new disease and we are learning a lot on how to manage it. But there are certain surprises which we are experiencing. Even when we discharge patients, we have started [seeing] a number of people seeing patients developing complications that we never anticipated. Some people are just coming with just a complaint of fatigue and when we evaluate them, we actually find that it’s COVID. And the cough that we are seeing is not the typical cough like we have experienced in Tuberculosis where people have a protracted cough. It is more like a simple cough with saliva. So it is beyond a cough or a fever, it’s affecting all systems, joint pains, a mild sore throat, feeling weak and so on. So my advice to members of the public is that do not trivialize any symptoms you may have in this period,” said Dr Mupeta.