HEALTH Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says the Zambia has recorded its first maternal mortality in the COVID-19 outbreak after a mother, who had presented with severe pneumonia, died, leaving behind a six-day-old baby.

And Dr Chilufya says 109 new COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the last 24 hours out of 1,133 tests conducted.

He was speaking during the commissioning of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) oxygen plant and the mothers’ shelter which were constructed and refurbished with support from the Swedish government through Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Friday afternoon.

Dr Chilufya said the generous donation of the refurbished oxygen plant and the mothers’ shelter had come at a time when the country was battling with COVID-19.

He thanked UNICEF and the Swedish government for the great show of solidarity and unity of purpose in the fight against COVID-19 and in the quest for better childhood as regards the mothers’ shelter.

Dr Chilufya said the country had on a sad note recorded the first maternal mortality in the COVID-19 outbreak after a mother presented with severe pneumonia.

“In the last 24 hours we have recorded 109 new cases of COVID-19 which have been reported in various parts of the country, out of 1,133 tests. But on a very sad note we lost a young mother, postnatal. The first maternal mortality in the COVID-19 outbreak who presented with severe pneumonia. This young mother leaves behind a six-day old baby. Our sympathies go to her family. Despite the efforts that our teams put in, we lost this young mother, may her soul rest in peace,” he said.

Dr Chilufya said 52 patients were admitted to various health facilities, 19 of them on oxygen.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister said there was now a cautious relaxation of restrictions due to a significant reduction in COVID-19 positive cases.

“The multi-sectoral plan that we have been executing in the fight against COVID-19 has been informed by evidence, the evolution of the pandemic. We notice in the last two months that positivity on the tests that we were doing was around 20 percent [and] around eight percent in the last two weeks. Yes this informs major policy changes. It is for this reason that there is a cautious relaxation of restrictions. The President has reopened schools, this is informed by evidence. And we have seen a significant reduction in positivity. The President is very cautious as he does this and emphasizes the need for adherence to public health measures and for consistent investment in the pillars of response,” said Dr Chilufya.