Health Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says his Ministry is closely monitoring the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries in order to draw key lessons on the efficacy and safety before making recommendations to Cabinet.

In a statement, Wednesday, Dr Chanda assured complete transparency and accountability on the acquisition and safety of the vaccine.

He also announced that the country had recorded 10 deaths and 1,256 new cases of Covid-19 out of 10,730 tests conducted in the last 72 hours.

“I wish to start my update today by saying thank you to all our gallant men and women on the frontlines for their tireless and selfless dedication to duty. You have diligently continued to provide the necessary healthcare not only for the response but for all our other health needs, which we continue to face even in the midst of this pandemic. To you I say. keep up the excellent work you are doing in order to sustain the response. You are greatly appreciated and we will strive to continually provide you with the necessary support. We are also appreciative of our community structures who have been instrumental in our contact tracing activities and have provided the various provinces and districts with talk time to further support your community communication efforts. Your efforts to account and track our cases and contacts by phone go a long way in ensuring we will be able to stop community spread also wish to update the nation that the Government under his Excellency the President Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has through the Ministry engaged the American, British, European Union. Japanese, Swedish, Chinese and French ambassadors who continue to partner with us to support our outlined specific Covid-19 response needs. Allow me to also thank our local Indian Association for their generous support to the response. They have donated oxygen cylinders to the cause, and these have had far reaching impact, as far off as the Copperbelt,” he stated.

“We continue to closely monitor our schools and were encouraged to note that some schools were closed by Health and Education authorities for an additional two days to ensure that the prescribed public health measures were put in place to protect the safety and well-being of our children and teachers. We will continue to conduct joint inspections and surveillance in schools, Colleges and university with the relevant educational authorities. The Ministry of Health is also actively participating in Covid-19 vaccine acquisition and deployment discussions and I wish to reiterate our highest assurance to the Zambian people that we will only recommend to Cabinet a vaccine that is efficacious and safe as guided by the World Health Organisation and other international health experts from the array of vaccines available. As we continue to carry out our own local assessments and the necessary groundwork, we are closely monitoring the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in other countries in order to draw key lessons efficacy and safety. There will be total transparency and accountability on the Covid-19 vaccine. Today’s update on the COVID-19 situation in the country is as follow: In the last 24 hours, we conducted 10,730 tests. Of the samples that tested positive for COVID-19, 933 were collected within the last 24 hours, whereas 323 were older than 72 hours. This gives a total of One Thousand Two Hundred and Fifty-Six (1,256) new cases.”

He said figures indicated that the number of new infections was slowly dropping, with approximately eight percent requiring hospital admission.

“The breakdown of the new cases by provinces as follows: 409 Lusaka, 180 Central, 134 Copperbelt, 113 Southern, 107 Muchinga, 86 Eastern, 75 Luapula, 66 Northern, 63 North-western, and 23 Western. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 57,489. Regrettably, we recorded ten new deaths in the last 24 hours. This is notably our lowest mortality figure reported in the past two weeks even as the number of patients admitted for covid-19 in health facilities show falling trends, but we remain cautiously optimistic. The deaths were reported from the Copperbelt four. Lusaka three, Eastern two, and Northern one. The cumulative number of Covid-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 804, classified as 364 Covid-19 deaths 411 as Covid-19 associated deaths; and 29 deaths are pending classification. We have recorded an additional 763 discharges, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 50479,” stated Dr Chanda.

“Allow me to stress here that this figure is very significant because it shows that we have recorded very encouraging recovery rates, with close to 90% of patients back home with their families. There should be no stigma attached to testing positive for COVID-19. Although there is presently no cure, COVID-19 is manageable. Our figures clearly show that only approximately 8% of our cases have required hospital admission and we have seen a significant drop in the number recently: Today that figure has dropped further to 7%. With early presentation and efficient case management, we have been able to save numerous lives. Currently, we have 6,206 active cases, of which 5.771 (93%) are under community management and 435 (75) are currently admitted to our Covid-19 isolation facilities, with 296 on Oxygen therapy and 46 in critical condition. I wish to end my update today with my customary call to action on our part. I ask each one of us to play their honest part in supporting our efforts to end the transmission of COVID-19.”