HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo says people living with Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19.

And Masebo says 33 Covid-19 cases and one death were recorded in the last 24 hours.

In a statement, Monday, Masebo urged people with NCDs to get vaccinated.

“Zambia continues to record an increase in the number of persons with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as high blood pressure, sugar disease (diabetes), heart diseases, asthma and cancer. Although largely, NCDs are as the result of modifiable risk factors namely tobacco use, unhealthy diet, insufficient physical activity and the harmful consumption of alcohol, the COVID-19 pandemic has added to this burden. People living with NCDs are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19. It is for this reason we continue to encourage people living with NCDs to adhere to prescribed COVID-19 public health guidelines and get vaccinated,” read the statement.

“In addition, they must endeavor to maintain good health by controlling the disease; continue to taking prescribed medication and attending scheduled check-ups as advised by the healthcare providers. We also encourage you to: Collect and secure a one-month supply of your medication or even longer if possible; be active, get involved in physical exercises. If you have to do physical exercises outdoor, always remember to observe the preventive measures. Eat a variety of locally available foods, including vegetables and fruits, to provide the nutrients required for the body to stay healthy. Avoid or reduce alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Get enough sleep or rest.”

She said there had been a 36 percent reduction in new cases and 53 percent drop in deaths.

“Our outlook as a country continues to be positive, with a further 36 percent reduction in new cases and 53 percent drop in deaths when we compare our statistics for the last two weeks. This positive outlook has been recognized internationally, as evidenced by the decision by Germany to lift all travel restrictions for travelers from Zambia. It is our sincere hope that through our diplomatic engagements, travel restrictions still in effect for other countries may also be lifted in due course. Despite the low numbers currently being recorded, we remain cognizant of the threat of a fourth wave towards the end of the year. In this regard, we are strengthening genomic sequencing efforts in order to stay abreast of variants in circulation, more so given that we do not know what mutations we may experience in subsequent waves,” she said.

She, however, said she was concerned about the low vaccine coverage.

“Furthermore, we are concerned with our current low vaccine coverage, as this implies we may still have a highly susceptible population when subsequent waves hit with the coverage at 4 percent fully vaccinated. We have planned a two-day campaign in the coming week to further push up our numbers and further to this we will continue to build on efforts to routinize vaccinations especially given that COVID-19 will be with us for some time,” she said.

“Our laboratory and surveillance intelligence will provide us with an early indication of surges and spikes ahead of the next wave, as we continue to critically observe the epidemiological trends. We are grateful for the support from CDC towards strengthening our surveillance.”

Masebo said North-Western Province continued to record above five percent positivity.

“Out of the 3,969 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, 33 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were detected, giving an overall national positivity of 0.8 percent. We continue to see an encouraging overall low positivity across the country, with the exception of North-western, which still records a positivity above 5 percent. The breakdown of the new cases and within province positivity are as follows: Central province 1 (0.7 percent) Copperbelt province 1 (0.3 percent). Eastern province 4 (1.1 percent) Luapula province 0 (0 percent), Lusaka province 4 (0.3 percent), Muchinga 4 (1.7 percent), Northern province 1 (0.5 percent), North-western 10 (8.1 percent), Southern 4 (0.5 percent) and Western 4 (1.5 percent),” Masebo said.

“At district level, the new cases were reported from 18 districts, with the top five reporting districts being Solwezi 8, Lusaka 4, Mulobezi 3, Manyinga 2, and Monze 2, whereas the remaining 13 districts recorded two or fewer new cases each. The cumulative number of COVID-19 confirmed cases recorded to date now stands at 208,502.”

She said the cumulative number of deaths stood at 3,639.

“One new death was recorded in the last 24 hours from North-western province, classified as a COVID-19 related death. The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date is 3,639 (classified as 2,727 COVID-19 deaths and 912 COVID-19 associated deaths),” she said.

Meanwhile, Masebo said over 1,000 people had been administered with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the lasr 24 hours.

“In the last 24 hours, we administered the following: 1,557 doses of Johnson and Johnson 117 Dose 1 and 371 Dose 2 AstraZeneca. The cumulative number of doses that have been administered to date is 653,092, broken down by dose type as follows: 313,240 Dose 1 vaccinations and 339,852 fully vaccinated (of which 208,435 (61 percent) are the single dose J&J vaccinations),” stated Masebo.