MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda says the ministry has enforced the requirement of a valid negative SARS-CoV-2 certificate that is not older than 72 hours for travellers, failure to which they will be denied entry into the country.

And Dr Chanda has announced that the country has recorded 153 new COVID-19 cases out of 4,353 tests conducted and six deaths in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, Monday, Dr Chanda stated that travellers were expected to produce COVID-19 negative test results to be allowed entry into the country.

“As the pandemic continues to evolve across the globe and closer to home, our points of entry remain on high alert, with screening and testing heightened, despite the reduced number of travellers seen at our borders. We have enforced the requirement for a valid negative SARS-CoV-2 certificate that is not older than 72 hours, failure to which travellers are tested at the points of entry. Both Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) are being utilised depending on the presentation of the traveller (i.e. symptomatic or asymptomatic). I am happy to report that so far, we have not reported any increase in the number of respiratory tract infections identified at our borders,” he stated.

And the Minister announced that the cumulative number of cases have now reached 84,950.

“Countrymen and women, the following is the COVID-19 situation update for the last 24 hours: We recorded 153 new cases out of 4,353 tests conducted (4 percent positivity). This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 84,950. The new cases broken down by province are as follows: 36 Copperbelt, 25 Lusaka, 24 Northern, 23 North-western, 21 Southern, I l Luapula, seven Western, and six Eastern. The highest positivity was recorded in Copperbelt province, while Eastern province had the lowest positivity. Luapula and North-western provinces had positivity above the national average. Six new deaths were reported from Lusaka two, Copperbelt one, Eastern one, Northern one and North-western one provinces. The cumulative number of COVID19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 1,164. The deaths are classified as 639 COVID deaths and 525 COVID-19 associated deaths,” he stated.

“A combined total of 619 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 82,375 (96%). We currently have I 1 active cases, of whom 1,262 (89 percent) are under community management and 149 (11 percent) are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. Among those admitted, 107 (72 percent) are on Oxygen therapy and 26 (17 percent) are in critical condition.”

He stated that concerted must be sustained if the pandemic was to be kept under control.

“In the history of health service delivery, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly stands out as one of the most protracted battles we have fought; longer than cholera, anthrax, typhoid and some other disease pandemics. The fatigue among our health workers and indeed even at community is evident and understandable. Yet we must ask that we sustain our concerted efforts if we are to keep the pandemic under control. By all indications, COVID-19 will be with us for a while yet and therefore it is imperative that we remain on guard and prepared for a possible third wave in the coming months,” stated Dr Chanda.

“The Zambian government through the Ministry of Health continues to take a multipronged and holistic approach to the response, with key emphasis on resilience to ensure continuity of service delivery, more so for other health burdens such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health.”