MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda says he is keenly following developments in Malawi, Zimbabwe and other African countries which have started rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as Zambia awaits the arrival of its first consignment.

And Dr Chanda has announced that the country has recorded 130 new COVID-19 cases out of 3,166 tests conducted and five deaths in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, Sunday, Dr Chanda stated that the country was closely following scientific developments being used in decision making regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The Ministry of Health collectively with its partners are closely following developments globally to ensure that only high level scientific evidence is utilized for our decision making. We are particularly following developments in Malawi, Zimbabwe and other countries close to home who have situations similar to our own local context and have started rolling out COVID-19 vaccination programs. This will provide keen insight into the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out on the evolving epidemiology of the pandemic. Our vaccine deployment preparations also continue to be implemented as we await the first consignment of vaccines into the country, with microplans having been developed at provincial level,” he stated.

He urged the media to ensure that they only publish verified information in relation to the vaccine.

“A lot has been said around the COVID-19 vaccines and the world still has a lot to learn as it is a novel disease. We therefore urge the media and others using social platforms to publish only verified data. The Ministry of Health and its Public Health Security Agency, the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI), are available for verification of information before it is published. Most of the data found online is not science-based and is typically issued without critical analysis, and if shared in its raw unverified form may cause alarm and drive even further the very myths, misconceptions and conspiracy theories we are working hard to dispel. We wish to reiterate that according to global health experts including the World Health Organisation and European Medicines Agency, the benefits of AstraZeneca, of which over 20 million doses have been administered worldwide, far outweigh any perceived risks, with well-documented impact in terms of prevention of severe disease, hospitalizations and deaths,” Dr Chanda stated.

He reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring a resilient health system.

“In the over one year since we began our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not been spared from other disease burdens including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive, maternal, new-born, child and adolescent health, and non communicable diseases. It has been our strategy to ensure a resilient health system that has been able to attend to the extra demands brought on to the health system while ensuring continuity of routine health services, and we will ensure that all medical supplies and commodities reach their intended beneficiaries, the Zambian people, in a transparent and accountable manner,” he stated.
And the Minister announced that Lusaka recorded the highest number of cases with the Copperbelt recording zero cases in the last 24 hours.
“We recorded 130 new cases out of 3,166 tests conducted (four percent positivity). This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 88,930. The new cases and positivity broken down by province are as follows: Central 12 (six percent), Copperbelt zero (zero percent), Luapula five (two percent), Lusaka 82 (six percent), Muchinga one (), Northern two (one percent), North-western three (four percent), Southern one (0.2 percent), and Western four (three percent). On a sad note, we recorded five new deaths from Northern (three), North-western (one) and Western (one) provinces. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded now stands at 1,220, classified as 681 COVID deaths and 539 COVID-19 associated deaths,” stated Dr Chanda.

“A total of 51 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 85,068 (96 percent). There are currently 2,642 active cases, of whom 2,566 (97 percent) are under community management and 76 (three percent) are admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. Among those admitted, 58 (76 percent) are on Oxygen therapy and 10 (16 percent) are in critical condition.”