MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama says Zambia has recorded 41 new COVID-19 cases out of 785 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Malama says 160 patients have been discharged from COVID-19 isolation centres.

Speaking during the routine COVID-19 updates in Lusaka, Thursday, Dr Malama announced that the cumulative figures in the country now stood at 13,928 cases.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded a total of 41 new COVID-19 cases out of the 785 tests we conducted countrywide. This, therefore, brings our cumulative total as a country to 13,928. When you look at the new cases we recorded in the last 24 hours, these were from healthcare workers’ screening, we had two, as we have stated we have continued prioritising the frontline personnel, particularly the healthcare workers. So, in the last 24 hours, we had two, who tested positive and these are from Lusaka,” Dr Malama said.

“We also conducted 20 through hospital screening prioritising healthcare facilities. These 20 came from: Livingstone, one; Lusaka, nine; Mpika, 10. We also had routine screening, which we did, targeting the community where we recorded 15 and these were from: Chipata, one; Kabwe, two; Katete, two; Lusaka, two; Nakonde, six; and Solwezi, two. We also had four truck drivers in Nakonde, who tested positive. This, again, is a reminder that as we protect, we should not be blind of the risk, which continues through cross-border business and trade.”

He said no new death had been recorded in the last 24 hours.

“It is gratifying to know that in the last 24 hours, we have not recorded any death as a country. This, therefore, still leaves the total number of deaths we have recorded at 326, which we have classified as 110 deaths due to COVID-19; 210 COVID-19 associated, while we have six deaths, which are being reviewed, pending classification,” he added.

Dr Malama said that 44 patients were admitted in various healthcare facilities, with 19 on oxygen therapy.

“As a country, we also have a total of 44 patients, who are in various healthcare facilities countrywide, out of this, 19 are on oxygen therapy. The distribution of the 44 includes: in Levy COVID-19 Isolation Facility, we have 20, with three on oxygen; UTH, we have four and all of them are on oxygen; Copperbelt, we have 10 patients and they are all on oxygen. North-Western, we have four, with two on oxygen; Southern Province, we have two patients; Muchinga, two patients, while Luapula and Central (provinces), we have one patient each,” Dr Malama said.

“So, again, you see that those we still have in our facilities require support, including oxygen therapy, most of them. When you get COVID-19, most of our patients develop what we call acute respiratory distress syndrome; in other words, they cannot breathe well and you just need to intervene for them to survive. You can imagine when one develops that condition in the community at home far from a health facility; we are likely to lose such a life. That is why we continue emphasising that when you suspect that things are not okay, quickly seek medical attention because you cannot get oxygen therapy at home or at a very small health facility. So, the quicker you present yourself, you will be able to be referred accordingly and get the appropriate treatment.”

And Dr Malama said that 160 patients were discharged from isolation countrywide.

“Today, we report 160 patients, who have been discharged from our healthcare facilities: 101 on the Copperbelt; 43 from Lusaka; 10 Southern; two, Eastern; two, Central and two, Northern. These discharges, again, Zambia adopted what we call a community model; for those who are positive, it is a double-thronged approach, some self-isolate those without symptoms, those with symptoms, we put them in a designated healthcare facility. So, the discharges of 160, includes both categories. Therefore, the cumulative number of cases as at today (Thursday) stands at 13,928 out of a total of 134,923 tests, which we have conducted since COVID-19 was confirmed in our country. This also includes a total of 13,021 recoveries and 326 deaths,” Dr Malama said.

“We continue to emphasise the importance of health facility screening countrywide supported by community intervention. We continue decentralising testing as a country. We started with Lusaka and now we are moving to the rest of the country. Today, we are happy that Western Province, the piece of equipment that was remaining to actualize testing at Lewanika General Hospital is being dispatched. We shall continue ensuring that also Luapula is activated in the next few days. Central Province has joined and now is able to test within the province without sending specimens to Lusaka. The beauty with this, we want to significantly reduce the time around when someone is swabbed; when the specimen reaches the lab, the result given should be less, as 48 hours, and that is our target as Zambia. We need to significantly expand testing because that is what is going to continuously inform us with respect to evolution.”

When asked to comment on the withdrawal of the damaged Honey Bee drugs by the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA), Dr Malama declined to comment on the matter.

“You have asked an item which is not COVID-19-related and we would want the press briefs to restrict themselves to COVID-19. So, if you have any other question, I think we can engage and we would be able to guide you and provide information. But if you have anything on COVID-19, we are very keen to receive that,” replied Dr Malama.