MINISTRY of Health permanent secretary Dr Kennedy Malama has announced that the country has recorded an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases with 362 cases recorded in the last seven days compared to 162 recorded in the week prior.

During the weekly update, Wednesday, Dr Malama said despite the increase, the country had continued to average a 0.6 per cent positivity rate.

“For Zambia, since the last update was given, we have recorded a total of 362 COVID-19 new cases that is in the past one week as compared to 165 new cases, the period before that. This is as a result of our increased testing as alluded to. What we would want to do as a country is to ensure that testing is readily available at the lowest point. We would want overtime testing to be sustained even at district level and we have seen this situation improving in the last few days, we have been able to activate testing in Solwezi, Kabwe, Mongu using another type of laboratory machine. So when you look at the situation, the positivity by this week remains similar at an average of 0.6 percent,” he said.

He said 99 new cases were recorded in the last 24 hours out of 6,278 tests done.

“When you come to the last 24 hours for Zambia, we have detected a total of 99 new cases of COVID-19 out of a total of 6,278 tests we did in the last 24 hours. The cummulative number of cases in the country therefore stands at 18,062. When we look at the new cases, the 99, the breakdown is as follows; we have had 53 people who underwent routine screening and these were seven in Katete, 17 in Kasama, six in Lusaka, 10 in Lupososhi, one in Luwingu, nine in Serenje and two in Solwezi. We also recorded a total of 42 individuals who were screened when they presented to our various health care facilities. We also had four people who tested positive for COVID-19 who underwent pre travel screening in Lusaka,” Dr Malama said.

And Dr Malama expressed concern over the number of patients presenting to health facilities for other reasons but testing positive to COVID-19.

“The situation has improved but as you see, we continue picking up new cases. Of concern is the continued pop-ups of clusters and individuals presenting to our health facilities for other reasons but testing positive to COVID-19. We also note severe disease among some of the patients and this is made worse by other underlying conditions in most cases, particularly diabetes mellitus or sugar disease, high blood pressure, conditions such as cancers, conditions which reduce the immunity. Of someone, we are seeing that those we are admitting are likely to have an underlying cause one or two. Let me assure you that our response teams at all levels in our country are up to the challenge and are managing to timely detect and respond to all alerts and contacts while we facilitate testing of patients presenting at our facilities,” said Dr Malama.

“Zambia still faces a threat of COVID-19 considering what is happening globally including member states in the continent of Africa and also we are aware that with the change in weather now, where the temperatures are going lower, coupled with the humidity, countries have started seeing some increase in cases. For Zambia this is a period also to be resilient. We are also aware that December, the festive season starts and there is a tendency for a lot of movements among families and it’s important that we don’t forget that this thing is still with us.”

He said two patients were admitted to Levy Mwanawasa COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Facility, one of whom was on oxygen support while the other in critical condition.

He said 27 people were due to be discharged today bringing the total number of recoveries to 17,795 with 364 deaths.