HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says the country has recorded 854 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Chanda says his ministry has finalized a memo to Cabinet outlining its recommendations on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda said the US government has made an additional US$500,000 donation towards the COVID-19 response.

In a statement, Wednesday, Dr Chanda stated that the cumulative number of confirmed cases now stood at 71,677.

“We recorded 854 new cases out of 4,864 tests conducted. The cases by provinces were reported from ; Eastern 211, Central 144, Lusaka 125. Southern 120 , Luapula 70, North-Western 60, Northern 53, Muchinga 34, Copperbelt 30 and Western 7. The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 71,677,” read the statement.

“Sadly, we report an additional nine deaths from the following provinces; Copperbelt four, Lusaka two, Northern two and Eastern one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths stands at 983 classified as 518 COVID deaths and 465 COVID-19 associated deaths. We have discharged an additional 431 recovered individuals from both home management and COVID-19 isolation facilities bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 64,040.”

He stated that there were 6,654 active cases.

“We currently have 6,654 active cases. Of these 310 are admitted to our COVID-19 facilities with 229 on oxygen therapy and 43 in critical condition. The remaining 6,344 cases are under community management. The reducing numbers in our health facilities in our COVID-19 patients have seen bed occupancy rates of about 30 percent the lowest rate since the second wave of the pandemic started. However, we should not relax as a country but instead ensure that our patriotic duty of adhering to the five golden rules is practiced,” he stated.

And Dr Chanda stated that the country had received an additional US$500,000 from the US government.

“Further to yesterday’s update of the support from the United States government amounting to US$500,000 toward the COVID-19 response, I wish to report that an additional US$500,000 has been provided for the COVID-19 response by the US government through the USAID Discover Health making it a total contribution of US$1 million. We remain committed to our pledge of transparency and accountability of resources committed by our cooperating partners and stakeholders. I thank the US government and all the cooperating partners for their support,” he stated.

“The success of Zambia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is premised on a multisectorial approach and members of the public adhering to public health measures as guided by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry equally recognizes the key role played by our cooperating partners in ensuring Zambia access key therapeutics that are not only limited but are on high demand globally.”

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda said his ministry had finalised a memo to Cabinet on the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Furthermore, the ministry has finalised the memo to Cabinet outlining our recommendations to the COVID-19 vaccine and seeking approach in principle for vaccine acquisition and deployment. We will keep you abreast on this developing situation. Our commitment to the Zambian people to provide safe and efficacious vaccine for deployment remains steadfast,” stated Dr Chanda.