MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Kennedy Malama says Zambia has received the first batch of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines which government committed to procure.

And Dr Malama says the country has recorded 53 new COVID-19 cases and one death.

Speaking when he received the 129,600 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Monday, Dr Malama said the availability of vaccines was key as it was the surest way of protecting Zambians from severe COVID-19 and death.

“We have come to witness the arrival of the 129,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. This is unusual because the Africa Union, Africa CDC and its consortium of partners, the World Bank, UNICEF have all come on board to ensure that countries like ours can benefit from the vaccines in fighting COVID-19. These vaccines have been procured following the commitment government made that we shall ensure that 4.4 million doses of Johnson and Johnson will come to Zambia,” Dr Malama said.

“So, for us, it is an exciting moment. You are aware that the vaccines we have been receiving have either been through COVAX or bilateral partnerships. Today we are here to receive vaccines which government made a commitment to procure. Many times, we have updated you that we are expecting 4.4 million of Johnson and Johnson to come to Zambia and what you see today is the first consignment of that batch which government committed to procure. But remember, that this is a movement. For us, availability of vaccines is key because this is the surest way of protecting our people from severe COVID-19 and death.”

And in a statement earlier, Dr Malama said there had been a 29 percent reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases reported.

“The country’s COVID-19 epidemiological status continues to improve markedly. In comparison, between the last two epidemiological weeks, we saw a further 29 percent reduction in the number of new cases reported, as well as a 17 percent reduction in new admissions, and a 9 percent reduction in deaths. Our biggest thrust today is ensuring enhanced provision of all essential health services across the continuum of care while integrating COVID-19 management at all levels. Despite the drop in COVID-19 risk perception due to the significantly improved situation, we urge members of the public to consider getting vaccinated during this current window of reduced COVID-19 transmission and get the much needed immunity to protect oneself from future spikes and indeed the fourth wave,” he said.

Dr Malama said about 1,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines were administered in the last 24 hours.

He added that vaccination points remained open.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded 1,004 doses of Johnson and Johnson, as well as 97 Dose 1 and 26 Dose 2 AstraZeneca vaccine doses administered. To date, a total of 599,340 doses (61 percent) have been administered. The breakdown of the cumulative vaccinations by dose and vaccine type are as follows: 310,959 Dose 1 vaccinations (i.e. 303,961 AstraZeneca and 6,998 Sinopharm) and 288,386 fully vaccinated [i.e. 170,941 Johnson and Johnson, 111,109 Dose 2 AstraZeneca (37 percent of those that received dose 1); and 6,336 Dose 2 Sinopharm (91 percent of those that received dose 1)]. Meanwhile, the vaccination points remain open countrywide and we urge members of the public to find out from their nearest health facility for guidance,” he said.

Dr Malama further said 53 new COVID-19 cases and one death were recorded in the last 24 hours.

“53 new confirmed COVID-19 cases recorded out of the 3,826 tests conducted (1 percent overall national positivity). The distribution of the new cases and within province positivity are as follows: Central 3 (2 percent), Copperbelt 1 (0.3 percent), Eastern 2 (1 percent), Luapula 3 (1 percent), Lusaka 8 (1 percent), Muchinga 8 (2 percent), Northern 8 (3 percent), North-western 15 (17 percent), Southern 2 (0.3 percent), and Western 3 (3 percent). Today’s top five reporting districts were Lusaka 8, Solwezi 8, Chinsali 5, Mbala 5, and Kalumbila 4, accounting for 57 percent of the new cases, whereas the remaining 17 districts reported three new cases or less. The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 207,167,” said Dr Malama.

“On an encouraging note, we recorded only 1 new COVID-19 death from the Copperbelt province. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date therefore stands at 3,617 (classified as 2,709 COVID-19 deaths and 908 COVID-19 associated deaths).”

Meanwhile, Dr Malama said the cumulative number of recoveries stood at 202,392.