HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the country has recorded 102 new COVID-19 cases out of 1,391 tests done in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Chilufya says government will not relax COVID-19 prevention measures despite the onset of the hot season.

Speaking during the routine COVID-19 briefing in Kasumbalesa, Thursday, Dr Chilufya said 60 people had been discharged and that no death was recorded in the last 24 hours.

He said the cumulative number of cases stood at 13,214.

“Let me update the nation here that out of 1,391 tests done in the last 24 hours, 102 COVID-19 cases where reported in nine districts; Lusaka, Mpika, Chibombo, Chipata, Livingstone, Lundazi, Isoka, Kasama, Solwezi. In our various facilities in the country, we have 49 patients that are ill and admitted to these facilities. 20 of these are on oxygen while 10 are critical and ill. We have discharged 60 people and we did not lose any patients in the last 24 hours. This brings the number to 13,214 out of 127,529 tests done so far,” Dr Chilufya said.

And Dr Chilufya said government would not relax measures despite the onset of the hot season.

“Let me address the myths that have been going around that the weather is warming up therefore the cases will reduce. Experiences from other warmer countries like India have proven otherwise, the cases actually swell and therefore we will not be relaxing because the weather is warming up, it is time to escalate measures and stop COVID-19. Therefore, the surest way to stop COVID-19 is to observe the five golden rules; of masking up, social distancing, washing your hands, avoiding crowded places and ensuring that you report symptoms early. Let us avoid another surge that will cause the economy to contract further and put our people at risk. Let us ensure that we don’t risk a prolonged outbreak by emphasizing community engagement and risk communication,” Dr Chilufya said.

“Recently, we have noted a surge in cases in Europe, America we have seen a new wave of infections. This has been associated with relaxation of restrictions, this has been associated with a number measures that have been taken and suddenly we have seen a surge in cases. What has Zambia have to learn from all this? That even if connectivity reduces as in terms of COVID-19, we do not relax, we need to escalate measures and ensure that we fight COVID-19 until it is confined to history.”

Dr Chilufya said there was need to strengthen port health services in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Movement of people in and out of Zambia is a key determinant of epidemics such as COVID-19. To protect the Zambian people from COVID-19 and indeed any other epidemics, we therefore need to strengthen port health services at entry and exit points. Kasumbalesa is one of the busiest entry and exit points that Zambia has. So there could have been no better place to discuss port health services. We recognise Kasumbalesa as a port of entry for many nationals. We see a high volume of truck drivers that come in and out of the country. We must ensure that we don’t fuel epidemics like COVID-19. To do this, we must enhance our port health services. To date, we have detected 254 cases of COVID-19 in Chililabombwe, this is only second to Nakonde that has recorded 815 cases,” said Dr Chilufya.

“What are we doing at Kasumbalesa is to ensure that the cases continue to reduce. From the data sources, we have noted that cases that we test both in Chililabombwe and in other parts of the country, the cases that test positive are only a reflection of the tests that we do. There are definitely more people that will be infected out there that exhibited multi symptoms but did not seek care or did not show symptoms and as they do this they do spread the disease to others. We are therefore mandated to strengthen surveillance not only in Chililabombwe but country wide so that the cases, mild as they may be, early symptoms are picked early so that we can disrupt transmission in the community.”