HEALTH Minister Dr Jonas Chanda says 31 percent of health workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

And Dr Chanda says the country has in the last 24 hours recorded 70 new COVID-19 cases out of 4,800 tests conducted.

In a statement, Thursday, Dr Chanda said the percentage rate of teachers, religious and traditional leaders vaccinated remained at three percent, while that of civic leaders remained at eight percent.

He stated that the cumulative number of people vaccinated stood at 6,495.

“Today, we operationalise the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as approved by Cabinet at the National Assembly clinic at Parliament buildings in Lusaka for members of the Legislature to access vaccines. We are elated to note the high level of interest among the members of parliament including ruling and opposition, and independent as well as Cabinet ministers, various civic leaders, the clergy and traditional leaders. Indeed, we all recognise that COVID-19 is no respecter of age, gender, race, creed or political affiliation – it infects and kills people without discrimination, and decimates the socioeconomic status of countries globally, Zambia inclusive. The COVID-19 vaccination program is being done in a cautious and phased up manner, and on a voluntary and pilot basis,” Dr Chanda said.

“As of yesterday, 1,884 individuals received the COVID-19 vaccine bringing the cumulative number of vaccinated persons to 6,495. The percentage of healthcare workers vaccinated has risen to 31 percent while that of civic leaders remains at eight percent. The percentage of religious/traditional leaders and that of teachers remains on par at three percent. As the vaccination program rolls out to all provinces and districts, we expect more people in the priority population group who are most at risk to voluntarily get vaccinated.”

And Dr Chanda said the country had recorded 70 new cases out of 4,800 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.

“Allow me to update you on the national COVID-19 situation in the last 24 hours: 70 new cases out of 4,800 tests conducted representing a positivity of 1.5 percent. The breakdown of the new cases by province is as follows: Central two (0.8 percent), Copperbelt zero (0/446 tests), Eastern 11 (2.0 percent), Luapula 8 (4.3 percent), Lusaka 28 (1.2 percent), Muchinga zero (0/150 tests), Northern five (5.5 percent), North-Western 13 (2.6 percent), and Southern three (0.5 percent). Among the 25 districts that reported COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, those with a significant number of cases include; Lusaka 16, Chilanga 10, Solwezi 5; five districts reported three cases each, seven districts reported two cases each and 10 districts reported one case each. The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date stands at 91,189,” he said.

“We currently have 44 cases admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities nationally. Among those admitted, 37 (84 percent) are on Oxygen therapy and seven (16 percent) are in critical condition. On a positive note, 161 discharges have been reported from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 89,117 (98 percent).”

Dr Chanda said two COVID-19 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

“Sadly, during the last 24 hours we have recorded two COVID-19 related deaths, a female adult in Petauke and a male adult in Luanshya. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to-date remains at 1,240, classified as 694 COVID deaths and 546 COVID-19 associated deaths,” said Dr Chanda.

“My fellow countrymen and women, while we note a decreased number of new admissions to our COVID-19 isolation centers, the few admitted there come critically ill and over 80 percent require high flow Oxygen. The number of new cases indicates a continual person-to-person transmission in our communities. Of-course the situation is exacerbated by the virus mutation and other factors including weather and social behavior leaving many people vulnerable. It is for this reason we emphasise that all the eligible adults above the age of 18 years get vaccinated and we all remain adherent to the prescribed COVID-19 preventive health measures.”