THE Ministry of Health has announced that the country has recorded 64 new COVID-19 cases out of 362 tests done with one suspected COVID-19 death in the last 24 hours.

And Ministry of Health director infectious diseases Professor Lloyd Mulenga has urged COVID-19 survivors to report back to health facilities for two weeks to ensure that they are monitored because most of them are presenting with lung complications.

Speaking during the daily update, Tuesday, Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya said 202 patients had been discharged from various parts of the country.

“Today’s update, we have 64 new cases out of 362 tests done and this brings our cumulative number of cases to 8,275. We also discharged 202 persons and therefore our total cases of those discharged stand at 7,004. Therefore, we are recording progress as we combat COVID-19. And we had one suspected covid related death of a 65-year-old female who was hypertensive and had a stroke. We are investigating that death. We did not have any other deaths and in our various facilities in the country, we have 76 parents, 30 of whom are on oxygen and three are critically ill in ICU. We continue to see people who stay home, self-medicating for a long time before they get to contact with us and we discourage this. You are transmitting to the rest of the family, you are getting sicker and you are going to pose a very serious challenge to the management of the cases. So countrywide, ladies and gentlemen, the distribution of the cases that we have noted, we have 22 in Lusaka and six in Ndola out of routine screening and out of hospital screening, 17 in Lusaka and four in Ndola and 15 known contacts in Lusaka. Therefore, the total number of deaths that are due to Covid remain at 73 and 160 associated while eight are still being classified,” Dr Chilufya said.

Dr Chilufya said the country did not have a test kit crisis.

“The test kits are available and that’s why we continue to test and priority is given to our in-patients and to those that are in other facilities including those that are managing the patients. So we do not have a crisis of test kits,” said Dr Chilufya, who also warned that it was illegal for non examination classes to be going to school.

And Prof Mulenga encouraged those who had recovered to return to health facilities to have their lungs monitored.

“We are encouraging that those that have been admitted and once they recover, they need to return to the health facilities, we are giving them a period of two weeks and we observe their lung function, especially and also we look at their clotting profile. The clinic we are starting, like for UTH, we started today and we will be moving across the country as well for those that are admitted for severe infection for us to follow them up overtime and understand the disease pattern. Now being a new disease, we have a lot things we don’t know so we want also to take advantage of this time when we are following them up to understand what would happen to someone after recovery. This morning I was seeing someone who has shortness of breath, was discharged two weeks ago, is feeling better but one thing again is that they are not presenting with the acute features like fevers. They won’t have fevers, they won’t have chest pains, they will just have fatigue and they will also have this sense of not feeling well,” said Prof Mulenga.

“Now with COVID-19 we are seeing that after recovery, especially those that we admitted, they are presenting with some fatigue which may go on for more than two months and some of them also do present with shortness of breath which can go on for more than two months and also we have looked at a recently published trial data which has come out also from Europe in Italy and also from America as well and India where they are seeing a similar picture to what we are seeing right now where these patients once they recover, about close to 90 per cent, they are going to still have some of disability in their function, they don’t return to normal health for more than two months. And one important thing, honorable, is that we need to realise that the majority of the patients whom we have, it’s the lungs that are affected and there can be scarring of the lungs and because the lungs are scarred, what we call re-fibrosis, the lung function also is affected and there is deterioration in the lung function. Another thing is that because of the blood clots which do form in the lungs and also the vessels elsewhere, the shortness of breath may continue and also the complications on the heart as well.”

Prof Mulenga warned that survivors who did not heed to this invitation risked further progression of the damage to their bodies.