HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says the country has recorded 555 new COVID-19 cases out of 3,910 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

And Dr Chanda says nine people have succumbed to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

Speaking during the routine COVID-19 update, Tuesday, Dr Chanda said the total number of confirmed cases in the country now stood at 75,582.

“The COVID-19 situation update for the last 24 hours is as follows; we recorded 555 new cases out of the 3,910 tests conducted. That is a positivity rate of 14 per cent. The cases were reported from the following provinces; 178 Lusaka, 136 North Western, 118 Northern, 47 Eastern, 30 Southern, 22 Luapula, 12 Copperbelt, nine Western and three Central. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 75,582. I also further wish to inform the nation that last week, we got 600,000 rapid diagnostic test kits and we urge all the provinces that have not collected these test kits in Lusaka to do so immediately,” Dr Chanda said.

Dr Chanda said nine people had died due to COVID -19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 1,040.

“Sadly, we recorded nine deaths from the following provinces, Copperbelt three, North Western three, Luapula one, Lusaka one and Western one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 1,040. The deaths are classified as 564 COVID deaths, 476 COVID-19 associated deaths. We also report an additional 508 discharges from both COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the collective number of recoveries to 69,436 or 92 percent. We currently have 5,106 active cases. Among the active cases, 4,789 or 94 percent under community management where as 317 or six percent are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. Of those admitted, 209 are on oxygen therapy and 41 are in critical condition,” Dr Chanda said.

“Generally, we have seen a huge decline in the number of patients admitted to our facilities, but to mention that those who are admitted, we still have critically ill patients who require oxygen. As we observed lengthened stay among patients in our intensive care units, it has become imperative that we further extend our clinical care capacity. The Ministry of Health is scheduled to commission the new TB Multi-Drug Resistant Wing at Kitwe Teaching Hospital in the coming days which in the meantime will serve as a COVID-19 case management centre since Kitwe General Hospital has space constraints and serving a huge population.”

Dr Chanda said Cabinet was yet to meet to discuss the country’s status with regards to the acquisition of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Ministry of Health together with the Ministry of Finance has already finalised and uploaded a Cabinet memo and since we uploaded it there has not been a Cabinet meeting. So, we are hopeful that at the next Cabinet meeting, whether it is held tomorrow or Friday, we will be guided that would be one of the agenda items. So, government of the Republic of Zambia has not changed any policy on the COVID vaccine. What we said on the COVID vaccine is that we need to reassure Zambians that we are following all the correct steps in terms of transparency,” Dr Chanda said.

“The Ministry of Health wishes to acknowledge the generous support of the MTN group towards the African Union COVID-19 vaccine acquisition and deployment efforts through a donation of $25 million. Additionally, MTN has at country level donated personal protective equipment towards the COVID-19 response and participated in the disinfection of our public spaces including bust stations, including Kulima Tower.”

He said the Ministry of Health had on Monday held a meeting with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to discuss preparations for the August 12 general elections.

“I wish to inform the nation that the Ministry of Health held a successful engagement meeting yesterday (Monday) with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to chat the way forward in preparations for the campaigns and elections slated this year. The meeting resolved to explore a number of avenues and innovations to ensure safety for Zambians citizens before, during and after elections,” said Dr Chanda.