HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says the country has recorded 1,476 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Chanda says a lot of patients are requiring high flow of oxygen.

Speaking during a briefing, Tuesday, Dr Chanda said the 1,476 cases were from 11,683 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

“In the last 24 hours, Zambia has recorded 1,476 new cases out of a total of 11,683 tests performed. That represents a positivity rate of about 12 percent. So what we have seen, we had a [positivity rate at one time of eighteen percent but now between 10 to 12 percent but however, that should not give us room to let down the guard or to relax, the battle is still on. Approximately 98 percent of the new cases have been identified from our hospitals and routine screening and from contact tracing activities. The remaining cases were identified among healthcare workers, points of entry and pre travel screening. The breaks down of the new cases by province is as follows; we are seeing a huge increase of cases on the Copper belt. So copper belt 345, Northwestern province 323, Lusaka 186, Luapula 125, Southern 121, Eastern 101, Northern 88, Western 72, Central 60 and Muchinga 55,” Dr Chanda said.

“The cumulative number of COVID cases recorded today stands at 47,622, sadly we recorded 12 new deaths in the last 24 hours. Of these, 7 were classified as COVID-19 deaths, four as covid associated deaths, and one death is pending classification. The deaths were reported as follows, copper belt five, Lusaka four, Eastern two, Northern one. The cumulative number of deaths recorded stands at 672 classified as follows 285 covid deaths, 362 covid associated deaths and 25 deaths pending classification. We have discharged 1,723 individuals from both our facilities and community management. Bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 40,362. The number of cases country wide currently stands at 6,588 with 6,093 cases under community management and 485 admitted to various health facilities around the country.”

He said about 70 percent of all covid patients were admitted to oxygen.

“In short 93 percent of our patients with covid are being managed under community management and only seven percent are in various health facilities. Among those currently admitted 339 are on oxygen therapy out of the 495 and 35 are in critical condition. So it means about 70 percent of all covid patients admitted are on oxygen. So that is the difference with the second wave brought in by the new variant of the coronavirus,” he said.

And Dr Chanda said a lot of patients were requiring high flow of oxygen

“A lot of patients are requiring high flow of oxygen compared to the first wave. One of the key requirements for our case management efforts is medical oxygen a continuous supply of which improves patient outcomes. This gas is vital not only for our covid-19 patients but also other patients with low oxygen supply levels such as those suffering from pneumonia, hypertensive, asphyxia, and sepsis among others. Unfortunately it can be a commodity that can be challenging to provide more so in rural areas where infrastructure, essential equipment and electricity may be lacking. The Zambian government under the leadership of His Excellency the President Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu is committed in ensuring standardized way of care across the country both in rural and urban areas,” Dr Chanda said.

“In this vain, we are working with partners notably the European Union, the US, CDC as well as our local Muslim community to increase the supply of oxygen to our facilities. This includes investment in oxygen plants, oxygen concentrators , ventilators and cylinders. I should also mention that no health care system in the world both developed and developing world was fully prepared for a pandemic such as covid- 19 and I was reading an article today where the need for oxygen has been overwhelming starting from the developing countries Brazil, Europe and everywhere but I am happy that government is on top of the situation,”

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda said government would guide on the upcoming N’cwala ceremony.

“I also wish to speak on the topic of upcoming traditional ceremonies such as the N’cwala which have been the topic of much discussion. Let me assure you that as government we are following the preparations keenly and continue to provide guidance in line with expert advise on how best to manage these events and ensure adherence to guidelines. As you know there is no ban on public gathering but they have to be managed in accordance with public gathering,” said Dr Chanda.