THE Ministry of Health is worried with the continued patronising of bars and holding of large public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Permanent Secretary in Charge of Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama.

And Dr Malama says Zambia has in the last 24 hours recorded 60 new COVID-19 cases out of 727 tests conducted.

Speaking during the routine COVID-19 daily updates, Monday, Dr Malama expressed worry that residents had continued to patronise public places, such as bars, and that they continued to hold large events like funerals, weddings and kitchen parties, which were a major source of COVID-19 transmission.

He said it was an element of selfishness that some residents had persisted to patronise bars and nightclubs, which endangered theirs and others’ lives.

“His Excellency, the President of Zambia Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has guided that as a country, as we return to normalcy, we need to ensure that we don’t drop the guard in preventing further transmission of COVID-19 in our country. We have made some progress, but we need to make sure that we continue building on this progress to protect the lives of our people and avert further deaths in Zambia. It is clear that although a lot of Zambians continue to be compliant at individual level, we still see a sudden situation in our country where some members of the community continue to be persistent in patronising social places, particularly bars, abrogating what we have agreed as a country. Others continue to hold large funerals, weddings, kitchen parties, religious gatherings and other social events contrary to health guidelines,” Dr Malama complained.

“Even as I speak today, when we give an update, we will be able to adduce that some of the infections we continue seeing are being perpetuated by such gatherings. We continued to note the number of people infected with COVID-19 having a history of attending these gatherings I have alluded to, including those that have continued patronising what I may call illegal bars because at the moment, we know what is standing when it comes to bars and nightclubs. This behaviour continues to endanger yourselves as people who are patronising, your loved ones and your neighbours. So, it is an element of being selfish! Because once you put yourself at risk of COVID-19, you have no control, other people close to you will contract the disease and the outcome may not be the same. Others may stand the infection, but they are those who may succumb from COVID-19. It is, therefore, important as a country we are cautious of how we manage our events by seeking advice from relevant authorities in this case the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Local Government to guide you on how you can safely manage these events.”

When asked if the Ministry of Health would take any action against Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa, who was captured at Chicago’s Reloaded in a video that went viral on social media where he was seen dancing, Dr Malama claimed that the Ministry was not aware of the video.

“We take note of your submission, you are referring to one of our leaders, as Ministry of Health, we are not aware of what you are referring to. So, we can only pick that up and engage accordingly,” he said.

And Dr Malama announced that Zambia had recorded 60 new COVID-19 cases out of 727 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

He said the country had recorded 12,836 cumulative COVID-19 cases with 11,748 recoveries and 295 deaths.

“In the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded a total of 60 new COVID-19 cases out of 727 tests we conducted. The new cases we are recording today include: 36 healthcare facility screening in Lusaka. So, you see that our healthcare facilities also continue recording cases. That is why you have seen, as government, we continue through the Ministry of Health in pressing on our people not to necessarily visit healthcare facilities unless those who are unwell. We also tested 16 from routine screening; 13 from Lusaka and two from Ndola. We also picked positives from the nine contacts known to cases in Lusaka. Currently, we have 47 patients in health facilities admissions and these are disaggregated as follows: we have 31 at Lusaka Levy Mwanawasa COVID-19 isolation and treatment facility; of these 14 are on oxygen therapy; we have seven under intensive care, which means they are quite sick; two of these are on mechanical ventilation, meaning they cannot breathe on their own, we need to bring in machines to support their breathing. Outside Lusaka, we have 16 patients with nine on oxygen therapy admitted to various COVID-19 treatment and isolation facilities. These are distributed as follows: we have seven on the Copperbelt; three in Muchinga; three in North-Western; two in Southern and one In Northern Province. So, you can see the distribution,” said Dr Malama.

“Today, a total of 74 patients have been discharged and these include 49 within Lusaka, 24 Eastern Province and one in Central Province. Therefore, our cumulative number of cases for Zambia stands at 12,836. The total number of tests we have done in Zambia is 124,073. We want to reach a situation where COVID-19 becomes a routine test in our facilities and also in selected primary health care outlets so that those who are positive can easily be picked. As a country, we now stand at 11,748 recoveries with 295 deaths. These deaths as we updated yesterday have been classified as 100 COVID-19 deaths and 195 COVID-19 associated deaths.”