MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced that the country has recorded 416 new COVID-19 cases with three deaths, warning that cases are projected to increase as we approach mid-August.

And Dr Chilufya has assured frontline health care workers that the incentive package has been secured and will be administratively rolled out once money is made available in the next few weeks.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 update, the Minister said the three deaths were recorded at the Levy Mwanawasa isolation centre.

“Zambia in the last 24 hours recorded 416 new cases out of the total of 1,003 tests done. We unfortunately recorded three facility deaths at the Levy Mwanawasa Covid centre, we discharged six and at the moment, we have 79 patients in admission and 26 of these are on oxygen support. Six are critically ill and require intensive management,” he said.

“We continue to expect an increase in cases with this adverse weather and we expect that through mid-August, we will be seeing increased numbers of cases. The only way we are going to change the tide, the only way we are going to bend the curve is you and I at individual level, taking up the mantle, the responsibility to out on a mask and to keep away from opportunities to transmit Covid.”

Dr Chilufya advised businesses not to permit anyone without a mask in their places of operation.

“We are at a time when the weather is adverse, it’s windy, it’s cold and this just predisposes all of us to COVID-19. It is a call to action to all of us and the fight is for us at individual level and community level. We have been executing a multi sectoral plan and we want to appreciate all the partners and stakeholders that have been participating but yet make a strong call to action for escalated multi sectoral action to stop the spread of COVID-19. The measures are known, put on a mask, wash your hands, watch you distance, avoid gatherings. The call to action is compliance. By reservation of owners of public places of various vessels, let us not permit anyone without a mask to be in our jurisdictions, this will protect everyone from COVID-19,” Dr Chilufya said.

“COVID-19 is real, COVID-19 will be with us. As the call by his Excellency President Lungu for continued service delivery is reiterated, we would like to emphasise that service delivery should continue even when you are working virtually. Virtue work assures continuity, let us not disrupt services, let us ensure that we are innovative and ride on technology platforms to protect ourselves from COVID-19 while allowing work to continued.”

And speaking earlier when he visited frontline workers at the Levy Mwanawasa isolation centre, Dr Chilufya assured them that they would get their incentives in the next few weeks.

“Today, I want to reaffirm government’s commitment on the matter of incentives. There has been a lot of talk about the package, I want to reassure you today that we have concluded on what must be done and we are working extremely hard within the next few weeks to ensure that resources are released to resource that package. We will be very sensitive and alert to ensuring that the incentive package that has been programmed is availed to our front line workers. When I talk of a time frame, I will not tomorrow or the other day or next week but I would like to leave administrative details to administrators. I would like to reaffirm government’s commitment to the incentive package and reassure you that it’s completed and that they will start rolling out and administrative dates shall be availed through the administrative machinery. But today, I want to assure you that there shall be no procrastination, there shall be no further dragging and the administrative glitches that may have been there have been resolved,” said Dr Chilufya.

“And this is my assurance and I took it personal to come and tell you personally because this is critical to keeping the morale, the mood and the motivation. I will personally supervise the administrative machinery to ensure no further delay on this issue. And I will be coming back to see you just to assure you that government, the President, the people of Zambia are with you and that you are fighting a war that is our war and we salute you.”

The Minister also said the Levy Mwanawasa Covid centre had been restructured by reinforcing human resource to reduce burn out, strengthening managements, appointing dedicated human capital administrators to manage the COVID-19 centre and that a consultant had been appointed to take care of clinical matters at the isolation centre.