MINISTER of Health Dr CHitalu Chilufya has announced that the country has recorded 154 new COVID-19 cases with five deaths in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Chilufya says 63 districts have so far reported COVID-19 cases, advising covid-free districts to strengthen prevention measures.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 briefing, Thursday, Dr Chilufya said of the five deaths, three were facility deaths and two brought in dead.

“Zambia recorded 154 new cases of COVID-19 out of 1,155 tests conducted. This brings the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 10,372. Let us take note that these individuals are coming from routine screening, 61 are coming from Lusaka, Chikankata, seven and two from Monze that means 70 of 154 cases are from routine screening. 59 are contacts to known positives and these are coming from Mazabuka, seven and 52 from Lusaka. 22 of these individuals who tested positive were picked through hospital surveillance, screening though our hospitals; 20 in Lusaka and Monze two. Further, through mortuary surveillance, two BIDs were picked as positive. Currently, Levy Mwanawasa has in admission 52 patients and of these patients, two are in very critical condition. In addition to the two BIDs, we recorded three facility deaths, two from Levy and one involving an expatriate from Mary berg hospital in Solwezi. The cumulative number of deaths linked with COVID-19 now stands at 274 of which 270 have so far been classified as follows; 82 as COVID-19 deaths and 188 as COVID-19 associated deaths. We await classification of four deaths. Today, we discharge 114 patients from our various facilities bringing the number of COVID-19 recoveries to 9,140,” he said.

And Dr Chilufya said 63 districts had COVID-19.

“Yesterday, we crossed the 10,000 cases threshold and the pandemic continues to evolve both locally and globally. Once we have made significant progress in the fight against COVID-19, there is need to modify, there is need for us to review our performance and modify our strategies based on the evidence that we have gathered on the ground. We have reached an advanced stage of the COVID-19 outbreak with 63 of our districts now having reported cases. Now, this reflects significant and sustained transmission within our communities and we are beginning to feel the impact of the increased number of cases on our health care system, particularly in the epicentres of the Copperbelt and Lusaka. There is therefore need for us to strengthen our interventions so that we can reverse this trend, reduce the numbers of cases requiring hospital management and minimize mortalities. Further, we still have districts that have reported few or no cases, there is therefore need for us to protect those districts by containing and slowing the transmission of COVID-19,” he said.

“We cannot continue watching the economy contract due to COVID-19, it is time for us to act and abandon business as usual.”

During the same event, Dr Chilufya launched a comprehensive strategy outlining the role of the community in COVID-19 prevention and control and the revised COVID-19 surveillance and infection and prevention control integrated guidelines and standard operating procedures.

He said this had been necessitated by some emerging scientific evidence and best practices as well as recommendations by the World Health Organisation.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Kennedy Malama disclosed that cooperating had been coming on board to fulfill their pledges.

He said some of them had some challenges due to a disrupted supply chain being experienced due to the pandemic.

He was responding to a question on what progress had been made since the ministry asked institutions to make good on their pledges.

“Indeed, this response has been well supported by a number of stakeholders, cooperating partners, the corporate world, the United Nations system and government to government support and we remain indebted to all those who have continued supporting the response. As it has been alluded to, we are seeing an escalation in the number of cases and also sicker patients presenting to our facilities so what that means is that more resources are required. Since the honourable minister made the call last time that those who had made pledges we encourage them to come forward and fulfill them, we are delighted that quite a number have come forward and fulfilled their pledges,” said Dr Malama.

“Some of them have indicated to us that the slow nature of fulfilling the pledges was as a result of the global supply challenges which has not spared all of us. Some of them had placed orders to procure certain commodities to support the response and indeed we have seen some of those commodities arriving. So this is work in progress as much as we talk of accountability on the side of government, even those partners who have pledged the support, we encourage them to ensure that they are accountable and continuously fulfill those pledges.”