MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama says a multisectoral response has been prepositioned to enhance COVID-19 preventive measures ahead of the general elections next week.

And Dr Malama says 24 premises were closed in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, Wednesday, Dr Malama assured parents and guardians that the Ministry of Health would continue ramping up joint surveillance in schools through screening and testing of suspected cases for prompt action.

“In our quest to prevent and mitigate further spread of COVID-19, our multisectoral task teams of enforcers have continued to execute the work diligently. With elections set to be held next week Thursday, August 12, 2021, the electoral process activities are heightening. The multisectoral response has prepositioned itself to ensure enhanced interventions spanning promotive, preventive and treatment,” he said.

“With the pronouncement of the gradual opening of schools, we urge the parents, guardians and the public to create a safe and healthy environment for the learners so that they learn in a conducive environment. We wish to reassure parents and guardians that we will continue ramping up our joint surveillance in schools through screening and testing of suspected cases for prompt action.”

Dr Malama announced that 668 new COVID-19 cases and eight COVID-19 related deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded 668 new confirmed COVID-19 cases out of 7,912 tests giving 8% positivity. The distribution of the new cases and within province positivity are as follows: Central 65 (11%), Copperbelt 55 (7%), Eastern 97 (11%), Luapula 95 (28%); Lusaka 70 (3%), Muchinga 63 (14%), Northern 87 (9%), North-western 75 (14%), Southern 32 (5%) and Western 29 (15%). The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 197,791. We recorded eight new COVID-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours. The breakdown of the new deaths by province is as follows: Southern four, Lusaka one, Northern one, North-western one, and Western one. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date now stands at 3,430 (classified as 2,574 COVID-19 deaths and 856 COVID-19 associated deaths),” he said.

“We discharged 317 patients (50 from facilities and 267 from community management), bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 189,658 (96% recovered). We currently have 4,703 active cases, with 4,316 (92%) under community management and 387 (8%) admitted to our COVID-19 isolation facilities. We had 53 new admissions in the last 24 hours (compared to 46 the previous day). Among those currently admitted, 271 (70%) are on Oxygen therapy and 83 (21%) are in critical condition.”

Dr Malama said Zambia was expected to receive 100,000 doses of Sinopharm over the weekend.

“Our vaccination programme continues to post milestones and we will ensure our people have access to the various vaccines in line with the basket. In the last 24 hours, we administered 2,515 Dose one and 707 Dose two AstraZeneca vaccinations as well as 6,610 doses of Johnson and Johnson. The cumulative number of vaccinations to date now stands at 289,482 Dose one vaccinations (282,583 AstraZeneca and 6,899 Sinopharm) and 164,924 fully vaccinated [i.e. 100,630 Dose two AstraZeneca (36% of those that received dose one); 57,958 Johnson and Johnson and 6,336 Dose two Sinopharm (92% of those that received dose one)]. We are expecting to receive 100,000 doses of Sinopharm over the weekend and we will keep the country updated,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Malama said 24 premises were closed in the last 24 hours.

“In the last 24hours, we inspected 2,455 premises, of these 2,066 (84%) were found to be compliant, while 365 (15%) were served with notices of improvement and 24 were closed. The current COVID-19 pandemic situation in our country is far much better, however, we remain cognizant of the fact that the third wave is not yet over. There is still a risk of surges in cases and an even worse fourth wave. Let us not be quick to forget how badly the third wave at its peak overwhelmed the health care system and disrupted the socio-economic activities in our nation,” said Dr Malama.