MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced that the country has recorded 237 new COVID-19 cases out of 845 tests, with 350 discharges in the last 24 hours.

And Zambia National Public Health Institute director Professor Victor Mukonka says it is an offense for an employee to fail to disclose when they have tested positive to the virus.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 briefing, Wednesday, Dr Chilufya said the country also recorded five deaths, two of which were brought in dead.

“Today, Zambia recorded 237 new cases out of 845 tests done bringing the total number of cases to well over 10,000, therefore standing at 10,218. Again, the spot map does show wide geographic spread and we continue to see cases in different parts of the country. Currently, we have 67 patients admitted to Levy isolation facility, nine are in critical condition and two are on assisted ventilation. We unfortunately recorded two facility deaths from Levy Mwanawasa Hospital and we recorded three BIDs in Ndola, one, Chililabombwe one and Luanshya one. The cumulative number of deaths now stand at 269 of which 266 have been classified as follows: 79 as covid deaths and 187 as covid associated deaths. Three deaths are pending classification. 350 patients have been discharged from our various facilities and that brings our cumulative number of recoveries to 9,126. Therefore, the picture is 10,218 cases, 9,126 recoveries, 269 deaths,” he said.

Dr Chilufya expressed concern over the high number of COVID-19 cases in work places, saying this contributed to the contraction of the country’s economy.

“A significant proportion of our institutions in both private and the public sector now have at least one positive employee or one employee that has tested positive. This demonstrates the risk that employees are exposed to as they discharge their duties. The temporal closure of these facilities for disinfection further exacerbates the impact of these work places and continues to contribute to the contracting of the economy. It is time to heed the call to work virtually and to distinguish the essential services that will continue to drive service delivery in the country and to ensure that we stop reinfection at these places. This undesirable situation, if not addressed, can have long term effects on the economy. The landlocked nature of our country as well as the economic vulnerability of the majority citizens who depend on daily earnings for their livelihood has precluded us from imposing a total lockdown in the country. However, this is in line with the guidance to ensure that the economy continues to run while we protect lives and livelihoods,” said Dr Chilufya.

He urged employers to ensure they protect their workforce by ensuring that overcrowding in work places is not allowed and health guidelines are followed to the letter.

And speaking during the same briefing, Prof Mukonka said failure to notify employers of a covid positive test was an offense.

“It is important for anyone who has tested positive to ensure that the employers are informed. In fact, going by statutory instrument number 21, it provides for the notification. So it’s mandatory to notify all the cases which are positive for COVID-19. So it’s an offense if you hide and you don’t notify you employers,” said Prof Mukonka.