MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for administration Kakulubelwa Mulalelo says Zambia has recorded 119 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 6,347.

Meanwhile, Mulalelo has insisted that people should avoid weddings, funerals and drinking places to lower the risk of infection.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 briefing in Lusaka, Sunday, Mulalelo said 40 patients were currently on oxygen support.

“The 119 cases are in Lusaka and cases include: 76 cases identified through healthcare facility screening in Lusaka, 23 contacts to known positive cases in Lusaka, 13 individuals identified from routine community screening in Lusaka, three health care workers screened in Lusaka and four BIDs in Lusaka. Amongst the active cases, we have 40 patients on oxygen support, five of whom are in the ICU. Today we have discharged 363 persons, this brings the cumulative recoveries to 4,493 since the beginning of the outbreak,” Mulalelo said.

“On a sad note, we have lost another patient in the Levy Mwanawasa isolation centre. This is a patient who had co-morbidities of diabetes and hypertension. The total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours thus is a total of five. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths stands at 170. Following the reclassification of deaths in which the virus has been detected, it has been determined that 51 are COVID-19 deaths while a 104 are COVID-19 associated deaths. Cumulatively, 11 deaths are yet to be classified. The cumulative number COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 6,347 including a 170 deaths and 4,493 recoveries.”

Mulalelo insisted that the ministry’s delay in giving COVID-19 test results was caused by inadequate reagent supplies.

“Fellow Zambians, we have noted the concerns from the public over delayed COVID-19 test results. A few days ago, we did mention that there is a global challenge of inadequate reagent supplies to meet the demand due to the following reasons: the supply chain constraints owing to the high disease burden and demand for testing globally, there is no production capacity in Zambia or Africa for required diagnostic reagents, reagents consumables as well as PPEs; there is limited availability of high-through-put laboratory equipment. However, the government through the ministry is doing everything possible to carefully manage the situation. The Ministry of Health guides that the following approach will help rationale use of available resources, patients attending health care facilities, symptomatic individuals, contacts to positive cases who are high risk, the elderly, the children, those with underlying conditions, and any other as determined by healthcare specialists should self-quarantine if they have been exposed to positive cases,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mulalelo warned members of the public to continue avoiding events like weddings, kitchen parties, funerals and other public gatherings.

“Members of the public are encouraged to minimize the number of persons to attend such events. If you are not a very key person to any event you have been invited to, we request that you avoid it altogether. Do not go drinking; all these places have been associated with increased risk of getting COVID-19 infections. Keep practicing physical distancing of a minimum of one meter and stay at home as much as possible. There are so many ways of keeping in touch and accessing our needs using the various technologies that are now available. Lastly, report suspected cases as well as yourself and get tested,” said Mulalelo.

“Fellow Zambians, the government has lifted some restrictions, allowing for resumption of some economic and social activities. He did empasise that while resuming these activities; we need to adhere to the public health measures. We all need to individually and holistically follow up on these measures if we are to control this disease and prevent further infections.”