MINISTER of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya has announced that Zambia has recorded 91 new COVID-19 cases out of 2,741 tests, with eight brought in dead cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

Speaking during the COVID-19 briefing, Monday, Dr Chilufya said despite the downward trend in the number of cases, there was a worrying trend of severe sickness being presented among patients.

“Although we continue to see a downward trend to the numbers of COVID-19 cases identified through various surveillance systems in the country, we note a continued worrying inclination of disease severity among those with underlying conditions and most of those presenting late to our health facilities…unfortunately we have seen very sick people presenting to our facilities and we have picked up two major issues that I would like to address now. Number one, those in the communities, when you have symptoms such as having difficulties in breathing, fever and so on, present early to the facilities. The symptoms remain the same, a cold, running nose, flu, a headache, a fever, some aches and pains. You may feel what is commonly called as malaria like,” he said.

He also expressed concern over the increased number of BIDs recorded in the last 24 hours.

“8 BIDs in the last 24 hours in Lusaka, two very sick patients referred from a private facility four days ago who are not doing so good. One was referred from a private facility yesterday and has been there for the last three, four days and that is not good. This is a message informed by what we are seeing as a trend out there…in the last 24 hours, we conducted 2,741 tests. With this enhanced capacity we did look at current samples and a bit of the backlog and we did note 91 new cases of COVID-19. These 91 new cases have been reported in Lusaka, Ndola, Mufulira, Solwezi, Kitwe, Kalulushi and Chililabombwe,” Dr Chilufya said.

“We continue to see reduced cases in our facilities though we bemoan the severity of the cases that we see out there and we see now that we have 17 patients at our various facilities, 10 in Lusaka and seven in the various parts of the country and what we see is a reduced number of people on oxygen support and these are in total seven. We have also discharged 83 patients from our various facilities in the country. The total number of cases now stands at 15,549 and this is after 91 new cases were added, we have 14,682 recoveries and deaths have increased to 345.”

And Dr Chilufya urged private health facilities to be professional and ensure they refer patients with COVID-19 symptoms early.

“The second point we have noted is attending private facilities and staying in those facilities even when you are symptomatic, the call is to both the public and the private practitioners. For the public and the private practitioners the message is this, the statutory instrument that has been invoked out of the public health act stipulates clearly designated places where you seek attention when you have COVID-19 symptoms. These are places where we have appropriate competencies, appropriate machinery, appropriate support systems and these have been told to everybody,” he said.

He further expressed concern over bar owners who were opening beyond the stipulated hours and putting their patrons at risk.

“We have noted with concern that bar owners who were allowed to operate from Friday to Sunday in particular from 18:00 hours to 23:00hours are even closing at 05:00 hours. You are putting your patrons at risk, we have noted even adherence to the masking up rules and so on and so forth, the compliance is getting poorer in hotspots. Remember, it is at the reservation of the owner of the premises to ensure adherence to these rules in the hotspots. In the markets, the shops, the workplaces, let us support this multi-sectoral response that the government has embarked on,” said Dr Chilufya.

Meanwhile, director infectious disease Professor Lloyd Mulenga said COVID-19 HIV positive patients who were adhering to treatment were recording outcomes similar to those without the condition.

“So far for the patients that have come in so far, we have seen that the majority of patients that we see in these facilities are HIV negatives. Under HIV negatives and this is just for the past six weeks where we had 80 female and 89 male then for the positives there were 49 with more male who we had admitted. And we only considered those who have severe disease. And in terms of blood group, one thorny issue about blood group O, for the HIV negatives we see that majority of the patients that we have admitted with severe COVID-19 have been those with blood group O,” said Prof Mulenga.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered Bank made a US$50,000 donation to CIDRZ for the purchase of laboratory reagents needed for COVID-19 tests.