MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda has bemoaned the high hospital admissions despite the country continuing to record a three percent positivity rate.

And Dr Chanda says the African Union has allocated Zambia doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, in addition to the consignment under the COVAX facility.

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda has announced that the country has recorded 62 new COVID-19 cases out of 2,438 tests conducted and two deaths in the last 24 hours.

Speaking during a COVID-19 update, Tuesday, Dr Chanda said the severity of the disease remained high.

“The country’s COVID-19 case positivity continues to remain encouragingly low giving our diligent frontline health staff some much needed relief from the additional stress brought on by the second wave. However, our case admissions have remained stagnant with the hospitalised patients observed due to prolonged length of stay in facility. We have observed that the severity of disease remains high and similarly, mortality continues to be recorded at a steady rate, with the numbers from Northern Province currently being cause for concern. This has promoted us to further invest in capacity building and strengthening of critical care management of patients countrywide, not only for COVID-19 and our upcoming High Dependency Units (HDUs), but for other areas of service delivery requiring this essential service,” he said.

And Dr Chanda said Zambia had been allocated more doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“Recently, we received communication from the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) established by the African Union indicating that Zambia has been allocated doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines. This is in addition to the COVAX facility. Additionally, our local task team is this week scheduled to hold a meeting to review the guidelines for the Private Sector and Non-State Actors who have expressed interest in supporting the vaccine acquisition. The Ministry of Health wishes to guide that our engagement of these private players will proceed cautiously with approved organisations being represented. The team will focus on aligning to the country’s Covid-19 Vaccine Acquisition and Deployment processes and ensure the safety and efficacy criteria are met throughout the program,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda announced that of the positive cases recorded, majority was picked from Southern Province which recorded 22 cases.

“We recorded 62 new cases out of 2,438 tests conducted (three percent positivity). This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date to 89,071. We continue to see variation in the positivity recorded across the provinces. The new cases and positivity (given in brackets) broken down by province are as follows: Copperbelt four (four percent), Eastern 10 (eight percent), Luapula five (two percent), Lusaka 10 (two percent), Northern one (two percent), North-western 8 (12 percent), Southern 22 (33 percent) and Western two (one percent); there were no new cases reported from the tests conducted in Central and Muchinga provinces. On a sad note, we recorded two new deaths from Northern (one) and Southern (one) provinces. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded now stands at 1,224, classified as 683 COVID deaths and 541 COVID-19 associated deaths,” said Dr Chanda.

“A total of 160 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 85,338 (96 percent). There are currently 2,509 active cases, of whom 2,433 (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 (13 percent) are in critical condition.”

Dr Chanda appealed to citizens not to let down their guard as the country continues to battle the deadly disease.