MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda says the country has recorded 609 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths out of 4,144 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, Dr Chanda stated that the latest mortality rate is the lowest since the second wave hit about two months ago.

“We recorded 609 new cases out of 4,144 tests conducted (15% positivity). The cases by province were reported from: 172 Copperbelt, 101 Lusaka, 86 North-western, 79 Eastern, 58 Northern, 36 Southern, 25 Western, 24 Luapula, 18 Muchinga, and 10 Central. The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 74,503. We recorded four deaths from Eastern (1), Lusaka (1), Northern (1) and Northwestern (1) provinces. This is the lowest recorded mortality figure since the start of the second wave in over two months. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 1,020. The deaths are classified as 547 COVID deaths and 473 COVID-19 associated deaths,” he stated.

“We report a further 1,001 discharges from both COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 67,944 (92%). We currently have 5,539 active cases. Of these, 330 (6 per cent) are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities, with 240 (73 [per cent) on Oxygen therapy and 37 (11%) in critical condition. The remaining 5,209 (94 per cent) cases are under community management.”

He added that as part of the response to the pandemic, government has mobilised resources and logistical support for all epicentres.

“Furthermore, as part of the response, we have mobilised resources for the districts including logistical support for the epicentres as well as funds for contact tracing and follow up of cases. We will continue to ramp up our community interventions in our bid to halt the spread of infection. I wish to thank the Africa CDC for all their support to various aspects of the response. As a government, we continue to pledge the prudent application of resources in an accountable and transparent manner,” Chanda stated.

And on Saturday, Dr Chanda announced in a statement that the Ministry plans to set up a US$1 million oxygen plant on the Copperbelt.

“The Ministry of Health has advanced plans to set up an oxygen plant on the Copperbelt at an estimated cost of US$1 million to support the Oxygen needs of the province which has seen increased demand during this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Chanda.

“In addition, through our various structures and in collaboration with our various stakeholders, our efforts to ensure commodity security has seen the mobilisation and distribution of resources to the frontlines including health centre kits generously provided by UNICEF and oxygen concentrators from UNFPA. I appeal to all our health teams to ensure that all resources are prudently applied to areas where they are most required.”