Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama has reiterated that it is not government policy that learners in both Public and Private schools should have a COVID-19 test certificate as they report back to school.

And Dr Malama says July has recorded an overall test positivity drop from 23 percent to 10 percent while new admissions fell by 74 percent over the last four weeks.

Speaking at a briefing, Tuesday, it wasn’t government policy for pupils to return to school with COVID-19 test certificates.

“Yesterday, the nation was updated regarding the gradual opening of schools and today further operative guidance will be provided by the Ministry of General Education so that we all support our learners as they go back to school. Today we reiterate that it is not Government policy that learners in both Public and Private schools should have a negative COVID-19 test certificate as they report back to school. What we have guided is that all schools should employ the comprehensive COVID-19 surveillance guidelines which were earlier disseminated in which testing for COVID-19 is not mandatory but guided by the screening process. In case school authorities are not clear on the process you are urged to consult the District or Provincial Health Directors,” Dr Malama said.

And Dr Malama said there had been an improvement in the COVID-19 situation in Zambia.

“There have been noticeable improvements in the COVID-19 situation in the country going by the two-week period reduction in positivity, hospitalizations and deaths recorded in the country. The key message is not to become complacent as we may see an increase in cases reversing the gains we have made. During the month of July, we have seen an overall test positivity drop from 23% to 10% whereas the number of new admissions fell by 74% over the last four weeks. Our focus is to ensure we catch any spikes early in cases and intervene timelessly. The front line personnel have put up a splendid performance during previous waves but more importantly the third wave. We are truly indebted to these dedicated heroines and heroes. We are aware that the experiences faced at the apex of the third wave have left indelible imprints in the minds of our personnel,” Dr Malama said.

Dr Malama said there were 633 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10 COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours.

“In the last 24 hours we recorded Six Hundred and Thirty-Three (633) new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported out of 5,510 tests giving a positivity of 11%. This brings our cumulative number of confirmed cases to 197,123 cases. The distribution of the new cases and Provincial positivity is as follows: Central 42 (11%), Copperbelt 46 (9%), Eastern 79 (11%), Luapula 40 (15%); Lusaka 34 (3%), Muchinga 45 (16%), Northern 48 (19%), North-western 87 (26%), Southern 163 (17%) and Western 49 (11%),” he said.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded 10 new COVID-19 related deaths. The breakdown of the new deaths by province is as follows: Copperbelt three, Lusaka two, Eastern one, Luapula one, Northern one, Southern one and Western one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 3,422 (classified as 2,568 COVID-19 deaths and 854 COVID-19 associated deaths).”

Dr Malama said the cumulative number of administered Johnson and Johnson vaccinations to date now stands at 51,348.

“In the last 24 hours, we administered 988 Dose 1 and 219 Dose 2 AstraZeneca vaccinations as well as 2,254 doses of Johnson and Johnson. The cumulative number of vaccinations to date now stand at 286,967 Dose one vaccinations (280,068 AstraZeneca and 6,899 Sinopharm) and 157,607 fully vaccinated [i.e. 99,923 Dose two AstraZeneca (36% of those that received dose one); 51,348 Johnson and Johnson and 6,336 Dose two Sinopharm (92% of those that received dose one)],” he said.

Dr Malama further said 276 patients were on Oxygen therapy while 81 were in critical condition.

“We discharged 391 patients (37 from facilities and 354 from community management), bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 189,341 (96% recovered). We currently have 4,360 active cases, with 3,957 (91%) under community management and 403 (9%) admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. We had 46 new admissions in the last 24hours (compared to 36 the previous day). Among those currently admitted, 276 (68%) are on Oxygen therapy and 81 (20%) are in critical condition,” said Dr Malama.