THE Minister of Health has announced that the country has recorded 19 new COVID-19 cases out of 1,158 tests done in the last 24 hours, with 37 recoveries.

And the Minister has expressed concern over the opening of borders by neighbouring countries, saying if not properly handled, it might see a surge in new transmissions.

Speaking during the COVID-19 briefing, Monday, Dr Chitalu Chilufya said the country currently had 36 patients in admission facilities, 23 of whom were on oxygen support.

“Zambia has recorded 19 new cases out of 1,158 tests done in the last 24 hours and that brings the total number of cases so far to 14,660. We have not recorded any deaths in the last 24 hours and therefore the number of deaths still stands at 332. We have discharged 37 patients from Lusaka and the Copperbelt and in our health facilities we have under our care, 36 patients, 23 on oxygen and these again are in Lusaka, Copperbelt, Central, North Western, Eastern, Luapula and Southern provinces,” he said.

And Dr Chilufya announced that government had introduced a new PCR platform that would be able to carry out 5,000 tests a day and get rid of backlogs.

Dr Chilufya added that the country had continued to record a downward trend in the number of cases being recorded and called for increased community monitoring as neighbouring countries begin to open their borders.

“Country men and women, the countries that are surrounding us are opening borders and we see borders that were closed for a long time re-opening in the next few is for this reason that Zambia has escalated its surveillance at points of entry, be it at ports of entry or the airports or land points of entry. So we will be seeing re-enforced surveillance activities in Livingstone, Kazungula, Chirundu and this is to ensure that we protect the country from new infections. While we will be demanding COVID-19 free certification, we will still sample a few cases to ensure that we do not randomly get cases. This is in line with the internationally agreed protocols,” said Dr Chilufya.

“We continue to battle COVID-19 as a country and the trend that we see over the weekend is a general downward trend and the general downward trend is seen at the point where we are doing all our surveillance in the health facilities and even in our communities. However, we have continued to increase our community screening and testing and contact tracing and therefore we will be able to see that there will be a few more cases picked out of the ramped up community screening and testing that will ensue shortly. Generally the downward trend remains evident and it is important that we continue monitoring the epidemic by improving our community screening and testing and also contact tracing.”

Meanwhile, director infectious diseases Prof Lloyd Mulenga said they had received an overwhelming response from those who had recovered from COVID-19 as they were presenting themselves to health facilities for monitoring.

“The response has been overwhelming from those that have recovered from COVID-19 and so far we have continued the Tuesdays and on Mondays we are having the investigations for those that are presenting to the clinics and as we all know that handling COVID-19 doesn’t just affect those in infectious diseases, we working with the pulmonologists and also with the cardiologists, they do the examinations to do with peoples lungs and also with peoples hearts. The major finding which we have is that most of those that were on oxygen they have problems breathing even after sometime because of the fatigue. Fortunately what we have observed is that those patients that had developed diabetes so far we have observed five of them whom we have even stopped giving insulin and other drugs related to lowering the sugar levels. They have now turned back to normal and we are observing this closely but some of them they have continued again presenting symptoms for them having sugar disease,” said Prof Mulenga.