MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced that the country has recorded 255 new COVID-19 cases with 3 deaths in the last 24 hours.

And Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNHPI) director Professor Victor Mukonka has expressed concern over the increasing number of community deaths which are currently concentrated in areas such as Chawama, Chibolya, Chunga and Kabanana among others.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 briefing, Friday, Dr Chilufya said that of the three deaths, two are facility deaths from Ndola and Lusaka while the other one was brought in dead in Lusaka.

“In the last 24 hours, Zambia has recorded 255 new cases of COVID-19 out of 1,486 tests done, now this brings the total number of cases cumulatively to 10,627 cases. The cases are being drawn from various parts of the country and new on the list include Luano and Lufwanyama. Further, we did record one BID in Lusaka and unfortunately, two facility deaths, one from Levy and one from Ndola. Currently, we have 57 patients admitted to Lusaka’s Levy Mwanawasa isolation facility and three of these are in critical condition. The number of deaths now stand at 277 and out of these 84 are due to covid and 188 are covid related, five are pending classification. We have continued to discharge patients and 197 patients have been discharged today that brings the cumulative number of recoveries to 9,437,” Dr Chilufya said.

He said so far, 329 frontline health workers had contracted the virus but that majority of them had recovered.

He said currently, no frontline health worker had died due to COVID-19.

Dr Chilufya expressed concern over the recording of cases in remote areas without adequate facilities to aid in managing the pandemic, adding that young people were also succumbing to COVID-19.

“It is sad to note that the occurrence of COVID-19 deaths in our health facilities continues, and although the majority of these deaths are in older patients and often associated with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and cancers, we are now recording deaths in the younger population with previously no co-morbidities. And furthermore the number of districts that are recording COVID-19 also continue to rise. We have observed a steady increase of COVID-19 in remote districts and these districts are far away from facilities that provide specialised services needed for the severe cases of COVID-19. Government is investing in equipment and human capital to deliver these services of COVID-19 closer to the people and an effective referral system for these. We now have cases recorded in Luano valley, for instance, in Lufwanyama and many other remote parts of the country. We also note that the older population in these rural parts are more therefore we have a message that our people in these remote parts need to adhere even more strictly to the public health measures that are being directed,” said Dr Chilufya.

And speaking when he made a presentation on the current trends of the virus spread, Prof Mukonka said it was worrying that there were covid-related deaths from some densely populated areas of Lusaka.

“Right now as we speak, all the provinces have recorded and we have now 66 districts distributed who are affected, who have recorded cases. Within that, we have identified also the key hot spots where we are seeing quite a lot of cases. On top of the list of course is Lusaka, Ndola, Nakonde, Kitwe, Solwezi, Chililabombwe, Kabwe, Chingola and Chirundu. These have recorded the biggest numbers of the cases. Now, one of the key indicators of what is happening in the community is the number of people dying in the community who are brought in as what we call BIDs. Again, Lusaka still tops up in terms of the list but there are a number of other districts which have shown that, namely; Mongu, Ndola, Shibuyunji, Kitwe, Chililabombwe and Kafue. Now zeroing in specifically for Lusaka, again you see the dots were bodies are coming from, you can see that it has hit almost every part of Lusaka. And what is important here is the shift from the low density to high density meaning that the problem now has hit into the compounds,” said Prof Mukonka.

“You can see Chibolya, you can see Lilanda, Chamba valley, Nyumba Yanga, Chalala. All these are our dear ones who have died, either covid related or died due to covid. Now, there are key issues when you look at the brought in dead, number one is; regardless of the cause of the death, what we have been doing, whatever dead body which is coming we have tested it and these are positive. Secondly, we must remember that these who have died, the BIDs they have contacts, which means there were people surrounding them who have been exposed to and three; that these deaths which have occurred are coming from the communities as you can see. And lastly, you can see the concentration, it’s Chawama, John Laing, Chibolya, again you can see there Chunga, George, Kabanana. So there are quite a lot coming from the high density areas meaning that we are dealing with a major problem in the compounds and we can’t ignore it which will require community engagement.”

Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Ryuta Mizuuchi presented a US$29,740,000 cheque, equivalent to K547,300,000 for the purchase and distribution of various medical equipment and health centre kits to be distributed across the country.