HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says the country has recorded 1,408 new COVID-19 cases out of 13,524 tests done in the last 24 hours and 17 deaths.

Speaking at a media briefing, Thursday, Dr Chanda said the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases now stood at 50,319.

“In the last 24 hours, Zambia has crossed over the 50,000 case mark and we have recorded 1,408 new cases out of 13,524 tests performed. This represents a positive rate of 10.4 percent. What we have seen is that at one time we were dealing with very high positivity rates of upto to 18 percent but the positivity rate has almost remained constant between 10, 11, 12 percent. This brings the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases recorded to date to 50,319. The breakdown of the new cases by province is as follows; Lusaka 456, Copperbelt 231, North Western 186, Southern 144, Muchinga 109, Western 77, Eastern 75, Luapula 60, Northern 47 and Central 23. We note the growing number of cases being reported in other provinces such as Northern Province which has had a high number of cases in a short period of time. The same applies to the Copperbelt Province which is also seeing increased number cases,” Dr Chanda said.

“Regrettably, 17 new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours; 10 of which have been classified as COVID-19 deaths, two as COVID associated and five deaths are pending classification following expert review. The deaths were reported from the Copperbelt eight, Lusaka seven, Central one, and Eastern one. We have now recorded a total of 705 cumulative deaths classified as follows; 316 COVID deaths, 384 COVID-19 associated deaths and five deaths pending classification.”

Dr Chanda said 1,489 patients were discharged from both community management and health isolations centres.

He said currently, the country had 6,844 active cases with 347 patients on oxygen therapy while 50 were in critical condition.

“This morning we have discharged an additional 1,489 individuals from both community management and our isolation facilities bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 42,771. As you can see our recovery rates are quite encouraging with up to 85 percent of cases recovered. So over 85 percent have recovered and this should give hope to the nation. We also continue to see a reduction in the number of admissions to our health facilities. So Like I was saying initially the health facilities were overwhelmed but we are seeing some trends especially in Lusaka of some reduction in the number of admissions to our health facilities. We currently have 6,844 active cases around the country with 6,345 cases that is 93 percent under community management and 600 or seven percent admitted to various health facilities around the country. Among those currently admitted 347 are on oxygen therapy and 50 are in critical condition,” Dr Chanda said.

“So what we have seen is that with the second wave, the number of people requiring oxygen is high, 70 percent or so. The number of critically ill patients, those critically ill those in critical conditions in facilities is about 10 per cent of all admitted cases. The age range of our cases is about 20 to 94. So this pandemic that we have is affecting the young people upto to a high of 94 years. To our young people, I say do not be deceived that COVID-19 is only for the elderly or those with commobilities and underlined illnesses. We are sadly seeing more young persons presenting with COVID during this second wave. We continue to see a number of patients presenting to our facilities late with low oxygen saturation levels. This severely hampers our case management efforts and lives to poor patients outcomes. Please help us to help you. The challenge that we have now is behavior change, people complying to these very simple measures. So what we need now is behaviour change.”

And Dr Chanda called on the Ministry of General Education and Higher Education to be vigilant as schools reopen on Monday next week.

He said the Ministry would recommend closure of any schools that were not adhering to the public health guidelines.

“Remember the President gave the Ministry of General Education and Higher Education two weeks to make sure that they prepare for opening. We as a Ministry of Health fully support the President’s stance that schools should open on Monday. Different schools can be at different levels of preparations, so what we are calling on the Ministry of General Education and Higher Education is increased vigilance, working together with us Ministry of Health, Local Government and others. We are going to take schools on a case by case basis. Those schools that would be found not to be adhering to these guidelines, we shall recommend for closure. Let the parents also ensure that the children mask up and the schools would be assessed,” said Dr Chanda.