MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda has expressed concern over the poor testing strategies and the lack of testing certification among travellers from some countries.

And the Minister has announced that the country has recorded 262 new COVID-19 cases out of 4,893 tests and three deaths in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, Wednesday, Dr Chanda stated that the country must not let down its guard and must ensure that there was adequate preparation to prevent or mitigate a possible third wave.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to evolve the world over and particularly in East Africa closer to home where some countries are experiencing the third wave of the pandemic, Zambia still has a window of opportunity available to us to ensure that we are adequately prepare to prevent or mitigate a possible third wave in the coming cold season months. We are still in emergency mode and must not let down our guard. We have also noted with concern the poor testing strategies in some countries as well as the lack of testing certification among travellers from these countries, and we have heightened our surveillance at the points of entry across the country,” he said.

He insisted that government would wait for scientific guidance in ensuring that only safe and efficacious vaccines were approved for acquisition and deployment.

“Another noteworthy development is the current global reports of some adverse events following vaccination with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe. The Zambian government under the able leadership of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is closely monitoring the situation and engaging with health experts across the globe in this regard. The global scientific community continues the discourse around these developments and will provide guidance based on scientific evidence. As stated numerous times before, the Zambian government remains committed to approving only safe efficacious vaccines for acquisition and deployment. Additionally, we have ensured that strong surveillance and pharmacovigilance is in place ahead of the vaccination roll out once Cabinet gives approval,” he stated.

And Dr Chanda stated that the country had continued to see severity in COVID-19 patients, with 76 percent of the admitted patients currently being on oxygen therapy.

“A combined 25 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 82,457 (96 percent). We currently have 1,875 active cases, of whom 1,729 (92 percent) are under community management and 146 (8 percent) are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. Among those admitted, 111 (76 percent) are on Oxygen therapy and 24 (16 percent) are in critical condition,” stated Dr Chanda.

“The COVID-19 situation update for the last 24 hours: We recorded 262 new cases out of 4,893 tests conducted (5 percent positivity). This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 85,502. The new cases broken down by province were reported as follows: 68 Copperbelt, 68 Luapula, 37 Lusaka, 35 Eastern, 15 Northern, 15 Northwestern, 10 Central, 10 Southern and four Muchinga. Three new deaths were reported and they are all from North-western province. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 1,170. The deaths are classified as 642 COVID-19 deaths and 528 COVID-19 associated deaths.”