MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda has announced that the country has recorded 1,025 new COVID-19 cases out of 6,699 tests and 13 deaths in the last 24 hours.

During the COVID-19 update, Thursday, Dr Chanda said Lusaka had the highest number of cases with 247 cases followed by Central Province with 139 cases.

“We recorded 1,025 new cases out of 6,699 tests conducted. The cases by province were reported from: 247 Lusaka, 139 Central, 135 Luapula, 129 North-western, 106 Northern, 92 Copperbelt, 82 Southern, 42 Eastern, 41 Muchinga, and 12 Western. Of the positive samples, 842 were collected in the last 24-72 hours whereas 183 were older than 72 hours. The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 66,598. Regrettably, 13 new deaths were reported as follows: Lusaka six, Copperbelt three, North-western two, Northern one, and Western one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 914, classified as 467 COVID deaths and 447 COVID-19 associated deaths,” he said.

“We have discharged an additional 1,114 recovered patients from both home management and COVID-19 isolation facilities, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 59,989. We currently have 5,695 active cases, of which 397 (7%) are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities, with 291 (73%) on Oxygen therapy and 57 (14%) in critical condition. The age range of those admitted is 19-87years. The remaining 5,298 (93%) cases are under community management.”

He said there continued to be a reduction in the number of patients admitted to health facilities across the country.

“We have seen reduction in numbers of patients admitted to health facilities, which gives us hope. The government with the support from Cooperating Partners has increased the stocks of Oxygen and other medical supplies in our health facilities,” he said.

The minister further urged parents not to panic as government was monitoring schools and those schools which would be found not adhering to measures would be closed down

Meanwhile, director of infectious diseases at the ministry, Prof Lloyd Mulenga confirmed that public hospitals were charging K1,500 for COVID-19 testing and certification.

“We have, especially in the last few weeks expanded the services just beyond the public sector to include the private sector and in the same vein honourable Minister as you guided, there has been also testing which has been ramped up as well in the private sector. Now, this testing applies to those that need to know their status for their clinical assessment but it also applies for those that are travelling as well. As you know anyone who is travelling out of the country needs to be certified as COVID-19 negative. And we have the testing again in the public sector where the charges, yes are K1,500 for both the testing and also the certification, for truck drivers it’s K300, then there are also those that travel on buses where there has been some reduction and considerations for those that may not meet that cost. In the private sector it’s much higher, we are talking of K2,800 to K4,500 per test and there is nothing like this is an urgent one, when it’s done, its available within 24 hours and the person is certified negative or positive the following today. We have no emergencies for those that are traveling, they have to use the PCR testing and it comes out within 24 hours in all the labs, public or private,” said Prof Mulenga.

Meanwhile, director clinical services Dr Aaron Shibemba cautioned the public to be wary of unscrupulous people who were issuing fake COVID-19 certificates.

“I want to caution the public that there are unscrupulous people out there who are doing activities to enrich their pockets and some of these reports, that’s where we are getting them, they are issuing out fake certificates and results and we have so far investigated some and the law is taking its course. So you will need to report such type of incidences to the management of the hospital or the testing laboratory,” said Dr Shibemba.