MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the country has recorded 204 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths, raising concerns over an increase in cases being reported in remote areas.

And Dr Chilufya has urged politicians who called COVID-19 a hoax to come out in the public and confess otherwise.

Speaking during the daily briefing, Saturday, Dr Chilufya said the virus had now been recorded in Chilubi.

“If you look at where these cases are coming from, it tells you that this is a generalised infection. 74 cases were identified through hospital screening; in Lusaka we have 58, in Chinsali we have five, in Mbala we have four, in Mpika three, in Senga Hill two, in Mpulungu one, in Chilubi one. These are areas where we hardly report any cases. So we are warning of a gradual increase in the number of cases in rural areas and therefore all of us in the rural areas should stop thinking this is a disease for Lusaka and the Copperbelt, this disease, we have evidence, it is there in most remote parts of the country. So beyond the epicentres of Lusaka and the Copperbelt, we have worrisome indication of spread to remote parts of the country where these cases were not seen. So if you look at the cumulative cases, we now stand at 10,831 cases in Zambia with 279 deaths and 9,942 recoveries,” he said.

“In the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded 204 cases of COVID-19 out of 752 tests done. Further, we recorded two facility deaths, one in Kasama and one at Levy Mwanawasa. These two deaths involved a 72 year old hypertensive diabetic at Levy and also a 73 year old, again diabetic hypertensive at Kasama General Hospital. Again we have continued to see co-morbidities and old age being serious factors in outcomes that’s why we continue to call upon everyone to protect the elderly, to protect those with co-morbidities and ensure that they stay home, and let’s not expose them, the best way is to prevent. We did not record any BIDs in the last 24 hours and we did discharge from our care, 505 patients.”

Dr Chilufya said Vice-President Inonge Wina was recuperating well and was in a stable condition.

“We have opened up a clinic to review people who have recovered from COVID-19 and the response is good and we have continued supporting them their rehabilitation from where they are and we have continued to ensure that a community based rehabilitation continues while we keep in touch. And for those who get any symptoms, we do re-admit and continue managing them. The immunity that you get from CVOID-19 like you have heard before we have been told, for those with mild symptoms, probably six to eight to eight weeks and those with severe disease three to four months and therefore even when you have had COVID, it is important to be alert for any symptoms,” Dr Chilufya said.

Dr Chilufya said the country was not able to maximise its full testing potential due to disrupted supply chains.

“Unfortunately, our capacity to test has been hampered by the global supply crunch, we have seen disruptions in aviation, manufacturing industry and so the demand for these commodities across the world has gone up and the supply side has not been able to manage however, we are tirelessly with our global partners and our various stakeholders to have these commodities arrive in the country earliest so that we continue to satisfy the demands or the obligation to our people. The capacity that you talked about Dr Shibemba and what we are able to do today, yes there is a mismatch and we believe that with the supply chain easing. We will in the next few weeks be seeing more tests being done and we are working tirelessly with our various partners including the World Health Organisation,” he said.

“We do acknowledge the challenges that are faced in the laboratories, many of our citizens have expressed concern at the long laboratory turnaround time and the delay in receiving results. I wish to assure you that Zambia has the capacity required for testing for SARS-COV-2. We have competent human capacity and we have testing capacity at various sites in the country. We have started assessing some laboratories even from the private sector that we are going to include on our database, some from the public sector and some from the private sector. Like we said before, the private sector are key partners in the provision of universal health coverage and we will bring them on board as we combat COVID-19. We will build capacity and we work with them, let us ensure that we speak with one voice so that whenever we handle clients, they are in places they will receive the best care.”

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya challenged those who called COVID-19 a hoax to retract their statements.

“For any citizens, whether they are politicians or any other opinion formers who have said in the past that COVID-19 was a hoax, I will repeat the message, how can a hoax be responsible for more than three million deaths globally? How can a hoax kill so many people in countries where health systems are advanced? Let us repeat the call to the President that we should unite across the political aisle regardless of religious affiliation, race or tribe, we should unite and form a common front to fight COVID-19. There must be message discipline, there must be solidarity and we must all agree that with unity of purpose, we will fight COVID-19 and let us not politicise it. And the media, you have got a role, yes, callout those politicians who have misled the public, I thought those are the people you would have said have blood on their hands other than accuse a reformist government that has established a technical arm responding to COIVD-19,” Dr said Dr Chilufya.

“But it’s those voices that will speak solidly and call covid a hoax that we need to call out, bring them back to the same media platforms you brought them to when they were telling the public that covid was a hoax, let them come and confess to the public that it was not a hoax. And it is important that we proceed in that manner.”