MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda says the country has recorded 1,206 new COVID-19 cases out of 10,063 tests and 14 deaths in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Chanda noted that the Ministry is making consultations on the mandatory wearing of face masks in public following the rise in the number of cases.

In a statement, Dr Chanda noted that of the 1,206 cases, Lusaka had the highest with 411 cases.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the COVID-19 situation update for the last 24 hours is as follows: We recorded 1,206 new cases out of 10,063 tests conducted (12 per cent positivity). The cases by province were reported from: 411 Lusaka, 180 Copperbelt, 163 Central, 132 Luapula, 122 North-western, 74 Eastern, 69 Southern, 30 Northern, 20 Muchinga and 5 Western. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 62,633. 14 new deaths were reported from Lusaka 4, Copperbelt 3, Central 2, Luapula 2, Muchinga 2, and North-western 1 provinces. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 853, classified as 395 COVID deaths; 427 COVID-19 associated deaths; and 31 deaths pending classification,” he stated.

“A combined total of 1,425 patients have been discharged from both home management and COVID-19 isolation facilities, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 54,835. We currently have 6,945 active cases, of which 6,531 are under community management and 414 are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities, with 266 on Oxygen therapy and 56 in critical condition.”

He however expressed concern over the increase in the number of cases in Luapula, Northern and North-western provinces and have instructed provincial teams to swiftly address the situation.

And Dr Chanda explained that because of the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases and poor adherence to wearing masks, the Ministry was still consulting on the mandatory wearing of masks.

“The poor adherence to wearing face masks by the public especially in crowded settings remains a source of great concern. The wearing of face masks in public spaces is a tangible and practical measure to curb community spread of COVID-19. With over 1,000 cases reported daily for over a month now, it is evident that we need to take drastic measures in order to break the chain of community transmission, and we are still consulting on the issue of mandatory face mask wearing in public,” he added.

The Minister however expressed gratitude to Paramount Chief Mpezeni IV of the Ngoni people for taking the decision to cancel this year’s Nc’wala traditional ceremony in line with guidance received from the government and in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and appealed to other traditional leaders to follow suit.

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda warned that schools not adhering to the COVID-19 prevention measures will be closed immediately.

“As we head into week 2 of our new school term, we continue to sustain our schools’ surveillance and inspection on adherence levels to Public Health Measures to prevent Corona Virus transmission. We are working with our colleagues in the Ministries of General Education and Higher Education as we continue monitoring the adherence of our learning institutions to public health guidance and safety measures put in place to protect our learners and teachers. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised, based on research, that students are indeed safer in schools with adherence than they may be in homes or communities with poor or no adherence. We will not let down our guard, but continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our pupils, students and teachers. Any schools and institutions not adhering to the set guidance will be closed immediately pending rectification of the situation,” said Dr Chanda.