MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary in charge of Technical Services says hydroxychloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 patients unless under authorized medical prescription.

And Dr Malama has announced that Zambia has recorded 450 cases of COVID-19 and two brought-in-dead cases in the last 24 hours.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 updates, Tuesday, Dr Malama said hydroxychloroquine was not being administered to COVID-19 patients because the drug could have dangerous side effects.

“We are aware that a lot of Zambians are asking the Ministry about what we are doing about hydroxychloroquine. As a country, we are guided by the World Health Organization (WHO), and at the moment, we are not using hydroxychloroquine to treat the severe form of COVID-19. The other component of our response is risk communication and community engagement, supply chain and to ensure all the necessary commodities are available, and most importantly, to ensure that there is continuity in health service provision in our country,” Dr Malama said.

“We appeal to our people not to rush to buy hydroxychloroquine. It can be dangerous! As you are aware, like any other drug, there are certain circumstances or conditions where hydroxychloroquine may be contraindicated. It’s important that before you take it, you consult medical personnel and they will guide you. In cases where they give it to you, there should be good reasons for that.”

And he announced that Zambia had recorded 450 cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, with a total of 27 people who were on oxygen support.

“In the southern region, our country, Zambia, we are number three in terms of total number of cases and also mortality. We had 2,542 tests conducted in the last 24 hours in our country. We have recorded a number of 450 COVID cases. The distribution of cases include: 296, which we detected through hospital screening. We also detected 37 contacts to known COVID-19 cases; 100 were identified during routine screening; we had 11 healthcare workers who tested positive; we had two alerts; one truck driver in Mazabuka and one was picked at the point of entry at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. We also had two BIDS in whom COVID-19 was detected. In our country, we have a total of 27, who are on oxygen support and two are in critical condition,” he narrated.

“We have also discharged 380 from our healthcare facilities. When it comes to a total number of tests we have conducted, we now stand at 79,269 since the outbreak was detected in our country. This brings the cumulative total numbers of cases to 5,002. Cumulative recoveries 3,195, cumulative number of deaths now stand at 142.”

And Dr Malama cautioned members of the public to adhere to COVID-19 health regulations or risk having the number of deaths increasing.

“The epidemiology of COVID 19 in Zambia is changing and changing very fast with more cases recorded every day. We have also seen an increase in the severity of COVID-19 cases we are seeing and its associated deaths. Last week into this week, we have seen a surge in the number of cases! What this means is that for Zambia, COVID-19 is established in the communities. We are emphasizing that we need to ensure that we adhere to masking and physical distancing wherever we are. And this includes on public transport and other congregate settings. We now have evidence in the country, in the region and globally, that if we don’t do things differently, the numbers we are seeing today can quadruple and it will mean catastrophic consequences to our people and economy,” warned Dr Malama.

Meanwhile, speaking when he paid a courtesy call on chief Puta in Chiengi, Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya conceded that COVID-19 had taken a toll on medical supplies.

“COVID-19 has taken a toll on the human capital and medical supplies on the health sector. To assure resilience, the government has been putting more human capital and mobilizing more resources for medical supplies to ensure that there are provisional health services routinely for our patients and to ensure that while we do this, we do not have lapses in the COVID-19 response. We are going to work with our partners to unshackle the supply chain,” said Dr Chilufya.