MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama says the Johnson and Johnson vaccine began being administered in Lusaka District yesterday and will be rolled out to other provinces in the next few days.

And Dr Malama says government is concerned about the trend that 15 percent of patients admitted to health facilities are a in critical condition.

Meanwhile, Dr Malama says 19 premises have been closed for abrogating covid rules in the last 24 hours.

Speaking during the daily COVID-19 update, Thursday, Dr Malama said the current vaccination policy did not recommend mixing and matching vaccines.

“As we distribute the different types of vaccines in our approved vaccine basket, we wish to reiterate that our current guidance and policy on the vaccination programme does not recommend mixing and matching of vaccines. Even as we begin to roll out the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, we wish to stress this point to our vaccination teams and recipients across the country. Do not mix and match vaccines. We assure the nation that we will continue mobilizing vaccines and we are expecting more to arrive in coming weeks. We urge the Provincial Health Directors, District Health Directors to widely disseminate information in your catchment areas where members of the public can access the vaccines, days of operations and timings,” Dr Malama said.

“The proposed sites for Lusaka are as follows, University of Zambia, Show Grounds, OYDC, Chawama Basic School, Evelyn Hone College, Pope Square, St Patrick’s Primary School, Bauleni Special Needs School, Cavendish University. So these are the sites where people can obtain the single dose jab of Johnson and Johnson vaccine starting from 23rd July, 2021.”

Dr Malama said the cumulative number of vaccinations to date now stood at 246,553.

“Our vaccination program has continued to expand. In the last 24 hours, we recorded 6,525 Dose 1 and 3,354 Dose 2 AstraZeneca vaccinations. The cumulative number of vaccinations to date now stand at 246,553 Dose one vaccinations (239,654 AstraZeneca and 6,899 Sinopharm) and of these, 75,805 have gone on to receive Dose two vaccinations [i.e. 69,469 Dose two AstraZeneca (29% of those that received dose one) and 6,336 Dose two Sinopharm (92% of those that received dose one)],” Dr Malama said.

Dr Malama announced that there had been 1,158 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 34 new COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours.

“The distribution of the new cases and within province positivity are as follows: Central 113 (22%), Copperbelt 91 (19%), Eastern 128 (28%), Luapula 182 (23%); Lusaka 90 (6%), Muchinga 101 (26%), Northern 169 (24%), North-western 142 (22%), Southern 85 (17%) and Western 57 (23%). The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 189, 731,” Dr Malama said.

“34 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. 32 of which have been classified as COVID-19 deaths and two as COVID-19 associated deaths. The breakdown of the new deaths by province is as follows: Copperbelt 13; Southern five; Lusaka four; Northern four; Western three; Eastern two; Central one; Luapula one; and North-western one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 3,196 (classified as 2,387 COVID-19 deaths and 809 COVID-19 associated deaths).”

And Dr Malama said government was concerned that 15 percent of patients admitted to health facilities were in critical condition.

“As a country, we are delighted that we have continued to see reductions in our COVID 19 cases and hospitalisations. However, we still have a concerning proportion of 15% of patients admitted being in critical condition, a situation contributing to the deaths we continue to report. It’s also clear that most of our people have continued seeking health care late contributing to the poor outcomes. We have continued strengthening patient care in our hospitals by increasing health personnel, availability of oxygen and essential medicines and supplies. Today marks the third consecutive day that we have had the overall national positivity below 20% and it is our sincere hope that in no time this will drop further to below 10 percent and subsequently to the desired less than five percent. To attain this, we need concerted efforts of all members of the public in being compliant to the public health and social directives and measures,” Dr Malama said.

Dr Malama said there were 81 new admissions in the last 24 hours.

“In the last 24 hours recorded 81 new admissions were recorded. Among those currently admitted, 496 are on Oxygen therapy and 108 are in critical condition. We discharged 1,990 patients (76 from our isolation facilities and 1,914 from home management). This brings the cumulative number of recoveries to 177,419 (94% recovered). We currently have 9,116 active cases, with 8,427 (92%) under community management and 689 (8%) admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities,” Dr Malama said.

Meanwhile, Dr Malama said 19 premises had been closed in the last 24 hours.

“We commend our multisectoral task team of legal enforcers who have diligently continued to conduct inspections of public premises and ensuring adherence to public health and social directives and measures. These inspections and enforcements have certainly been key to closing the taps of community transmission. In the last 24 hours, countrywide we inspected 1,751 premises, and it is encouraging to note that the majority were compliant, whereas 212 were served with notices while 19 were closed,” said Dr Malama.