MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda has announced that the country has procured 600,000 rapid diagnostic COVID-19 test kits to be distributed across the country.

During the COVID-19 update, Thursday, Dr Chanda warned that pilfering of the tests kits would not be condoned and those found wanting would face disciplinary action.

“I would like to update the nation that we have procured 600,000 rapid diagnostic test kits which have arrived in the country. The test kits will be distributed in a transparent and accountable manner to all districts countrywide in order to ensure an effective contribution to the COVID-19 response. And I must warn, there must be no pilfering of these rapid tests to create artificial shortages and denying people of their ability to do a COVID-19 test. Anyone found pilfering test kits, drugs, or any other medical supplies will face disciplinary action because we will not tolerate the pilfering of commodities that are meant for the Zambian people,” he said.

He also announced that the country recorded 790 new COVID-19 cases out of 5,517 tests done.

“We recorded 790 new cases out of 5,517 tests conducted. That is the positivity rate of 14 percent. The cases by province were ported as follows: 328 Lusaka, 101 Eastern, 97 Northern, 79 Southern, 57 Copper belt, 41 Muchinga, 32 Central, 31 Northwestern, 21 Luapula and three Western. Of the samples that tested COVID-19 positive, 641, or 81 percent of those samples were collected within the last 24 to 72 hours, whereas 149 or 19 percent were older than 72 hours. So in short, we have reduced so much on the backlog of tests. We have to deal with current tests so that we get the correct picture of the COVID-19 situation in Zambia. The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 72,467,” he said.

The Minister said eight deaths and 1,011 recoveries were recorded in the last 24 hours.

“We recorded an additional eight deaths from the following provinces: Copperbelt five, Northwestern two and Lusaka one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 991 classified as 525 COVID-19 deaths and 466 COVID-19 associated deaths. We have discharged an additional 1,011 recovered individuals from both home management and COVID-19 isolation facilities bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 65,051 or 90 percent. We currently have 6,425 active cases of these 321 are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities with 223 or 70 percent on oxygen therapy and 32 or 14 percent in critical condition,” said Dr Chanda.