ZAMBIA has in the last 24 hours recorded two deaths and 284 new cases of COVID-19, says Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya.

And Dr Chilufya says a simple survey at Levy Mwanawasa COVID facility revealed that most COVID-19 patients were from Blood Group O.

Meanwhile, comedian Aubrey Luo, popularly known as Shimumbi, has appealed to the government to supply free face masks in the communities, bus stops and markets as many people cannot afford to buy.

At a press briefing in Lusaka, Tuesday, Dr Chilufya said the country had recorded 284 new cases and two deaths in the last 24 hours.

“In the last 24 hours, we have confirmed 284 new COVID-19 cases including one health facility death out of 2,191 tests conducted. The deceased was a 65-year-old man who was admitted to Levy Mwanawasa COVID facility. When we disaggregate the data, we find that out of the routine screening, 74 came from Ndola, 34 from Lusaka, 21 from Mpika, 10 from Kitwe, four (04) from Chipata, three (03) in Chilanga, one (01) Chingola, and one (01) in Nyimba,” Dr Chilufya said.

He said out of the two deaths recorded, one was from Lusaka while another was a Brought in Dead (BID) recorded in Ndola.

“Those that we screened from our health care facilities, again 42 from Lusaka, 27 from Mpika, seven (07) in Ndola, five (05) Kitwe, five (05) Chinsali, four (04) Isoka, three (03) Solwezi, two (02) Luanshya, one (01) Chibombo, and one (01) Chirundu. Those who are known contacts came from Chipata with six (06), Ndola seven (07), and 23 in Lusaka. We also recorded one BID at Ndola Teaching Hospital that tested positive,” Dr Chilufya said.

Dr Chilufya said 18 patients were in oxygen while five were in ICU.

“Today as we speak, Levy Mwanawasa has 31 patients in admission and out of these, 18 are on oxygen therapy, five (05) in intensive care who require ventilation. Outside Lusaka, all the provinces put together we have a total of 20 patients and out of these seven (07) are on oxygen. And these are again nine (09) on the Copperbelt, five (05) in Southern Province (Livingstone and Kazungula), then four (04) in North Western Province, and two in Northern Province,” he said.

He said the cumulative number of cases now stands at 12,381 out of the total 117,761 tests conducted.

“The cumulative number of cases now stands at 12,381 cases out of the 117,761 tests done so far. Deaths now stand at 290. And those that are COVID-19 deaths stand at 96 and those that are COVID-19 related deaths are 194,” Dr Chilufya said.

He said the government had introduced COVID-19 testing in Kabwe, Solwezi, Kasama, and Livingstone in order to help determine the exact extent of the pandemic.

“Today, the President remains concerned over the alarming levels of spread and severity of disease and by the increased number of people who are at higher risk of getting COVID-19. The elderly are at very higher risk of getting COVID-19 and those with diabetes and hypertension. And today, because of the expansion in our capacity tests, we have introduced testing in Kabwe, Solwezi, Kasama, and in Livingstone. And we continue to expand to other parts of the country in order for us to establish the exact extent of the challenge and to early isolate those who are not well so that we can disrupt the spread,” he said.

And Dr Chilufya said a simple test conducted revealed that most of the COVID-19 patients were Blood Group O.

“This COVID-19 can affect anyone and all of us are at risk. We were doing an analysis of the information we got where some members of society said that because they are Blood Group O+, they were immune to COVID-19. A simple operation done in Levy Mwanawasa COVID facility revealed that most of the patients recorded there as COVID-19 were actually Blood Group O. There is no immunity that is conferred upon Blood Group O and let us ensure that we take health measures to protect ourselves,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shumumbi appealed to the government to distribute free masks in communities as many cannot afford to buy.

“Probably the government can consider distributing face masks in markets and communities because a lot of traders go about their businesses without wearing masks. They are failing to buy face masks. When you ask them to buy one they say they do not have that capacity because K10 is a business capital to them. But they are forgetting that the K10 capital they are talking about is nothing compared to the life which they risk losing by not wearing a mask,” said Shimumbi.