HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya has insisted that parties, weddings, chilanga mulilos, kitchen parties and funerals have become a common denominator in the many COVID-19 deaths that the country has recorded.

And Dr Chilufya says 165 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours, with two facility deaths and two BIDs.

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya says a total of 300 health workers have tested positive to COVID-19 since the pandemic hit Zambia.

In his daily COVID-19 update, Saturday, Dr Chilufya said 70 patients were currently admitted to Levy Mwanawasa isolation facility, while 26 were admitted in different provinces.

“Today we have 165 new cases, two facility deaths, two BIDs. 70 patients are admitted to Levy Mwanawasa COVID Isolation facility today. Three are in critical condition and under intensive care unit. We have a further 26 patients who are admitted in different provinces. We have three health workers who are admitted today in our health facilities for COVID-19. And in total we have 300 health workers that have tested positive to COVID-19 since the outbreak started and 90 percent of them have recovered,” he said.

Dr Chilufya further said parties, weddings, chilanga mulilos, kitchen parties and funerals had become the common denominator in the many deaths that the country had seen.

“Country men and women, parties, weddings, chilanga mulilos, kitchen parties, funerals have become the common denominator in the many deaths that we have seen. We are seen families having more than five, six people affected. We are re-infecting each other at funerals. We are moving from one funeral to the next and we are not learning lessons early enough. Everybody is at risk, and infecting and re-infecting each other is possible because of our inability to depart from business as usual. There are too many people continuing with funerals, business as usual. Too many people continuing with weddings, chilanga mulilos, kitchen parties, business as usual,” Dr Chilufya said.

He urged the public to avoid social gatherings, saying the more people were not compliant to the public health measures, the longer the country shall have COVID-19.

“What we have seen is a trend where we are losing the elderly and the only link we have are social functions. One painful death we had last week involved an elderly woman, 65-years-old. The only history was attending a chilanga mulilo and a few days later she had diarrhoea and a fever and she succumbed. There were a number of other younger people who got COVID-19 from the same function but they have recovered. Let us show love to the elderly, let us do business differently. Avoid unnecessary movements, travels, stay home. This is not time to allow visitors [at home]. Let us wear masks, and let us wear masks correctly,” said Dr Chilufya.

He further said markets and bus stops had been picked as high risk areas, adding that these were places they needed to ensure that everyone was in a mask.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for technical services Dr Kennedy Malama urged people to adhere to the COVID-19 prevention guidelines and to further avoid congregate settings.