MINISTRY of Health Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Professor Lackson Kasonka says the vaccination campaign has started off on a successful note, with 71,657 people getting jabbed in the first two days.

Speaking during a Covid-19 briefing, last Monday, Prof Kasonka urged the public to take advantage of the Covid-19 campaign and get vaccinated.

“In the just ended week, we recorded a total of 501 new cases, compared to 393 the previous week, a 27% increase. We recorded fewer deaths with only one death reported which was classified as COVID-19 associated and occurred in an unvaccinated individual. On the other hand, we saw slightly more new admissions this past week with 26 compared to 20 last week. Our overall national positivity for the week rose slightly to 4%. At provincial level, positivity was less than 5% in Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Lusaka, Muchinga, Northern, and Western provinces whereas Central, North-western and Southern had positivity above 5% but still below 10% (at 9%, 6% and 8% respectively). We are continuing to closely monitor our statistics for signs of resurgence and ensuring that our teams remain prepared for a possible 5th wave,” Prof Kasonka said.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded 53 new cases out of 1,164 tests conducted countrywide. Notably, Copperbelt, and Western provinces today report zero new cases. The overall national positivity today is at 5%. We discharged a total of 63 patients from both home and facility management, and recorded only one new admission. No new deaths were recorded across the country, for a sixth consecutive day. We have 558 active cases, with 21 currently admitted to healthcare facilities across the country. Of the hospitalised, three (14%) are on oxygen therapy, and none are in critical condition. I wish to report that the vaccination campaign has started off on a successful note with 71,657 people vaccinated in the last two days. To all not yet vaccinated, make a smart choice, roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated.”

He said government and other stakeholders remained committed to ensuring all eligible individuals have access to Covid-19 vaccines

“It is my hope that you all had a safe and blessed weekend. Particularly, I am hopeful that all those who were not yet Vaccinated against COVID-19 are taking advantage of the campaign which has facilitated provision of vaccines as close as possible to you all. Indeed, Saturday May 14th 2022 was an exciting day when the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, Her Honour Mrs W. K. Mutale Nalumango relaunched a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Solwezi. It was pleasing to observe colourful activities flagged off concurrently in various districts and wards through-out the weekend across our country,” he said.

“Government with the support of local and international partners to whom we are grateful, remains committed to ensuring all eligible individuals have access to the COVID-19 vaccines. Government recognises vaccinations as a critical, safe, efficient and effective intervention to prevent COVID-19 and many other diseases. It is for this reason, Government under the leadership of The Republican President, His Excellency Hakainde Hichilema has committed an increased budget to securing vaccines for all vaccine preventable diseases.”

He said it was important that as the country worked towards 70 per cent vaccination coverage against Covid-19, we continued to observe the health guidelines.

“An imminent 5th wave threatens our public health security considering the upsurges occurring in some countries within our region. It is for this reason the Ministry of Health through its public health security agency the Zambia National Public Health Institute continues to mount a heightened response to the COVID-19. While we pursue heightened Disease Intelligence and contact tracing timely detection and management of cases, our song on prevention is emphasised,” he said.

“It is important that as we work towards 70% vaccination coverage against COVID-19, we must all continue to observe the five golden rules, wearing a mask correctly and consistently whenever in public, observing hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or using hand alcohol-based sanitisers. In addition, individuals are urged to practice general personal and environmental hygiene, Keeping physical distance, Avoiding crowded places, Visiting the healthcare provider whenever feeling ill. We are also discouraged from pursuing non-essential travel. If a trip is not critical to you, please stay home.”

And Prof Kasonka said polio remained a threat in Zambia.

“I am saddened to indicate that Zambia remains threatened by polio. We have reports of another case of confirmed polio in Mozambique. This is happening while we are still responding to the recent case of polio in Malawi. This requires us to heighten vigilance against polio at all costs. As you may recall, we are scheduled to conduct another nationwide polio vaccination campaign in the first week of July 2022 to immunize all children under the age of 5 years. That will be our third consecutive round. We started with Chipata, Muchinga and Lusaka provinces in the first round, and recently completed a nation-wide second round. This is all to ensure that we remove the threat of polio from all our children who are under 5 years of age,” he said.

“We continue to conduct heightened surveillance against polio and other public health threats. Our disease Intelligence teams coordinated by the ZNPHI continue to timely and efficiently conduct active case search for polio. On a positive note it is now 12 days since we detected any cholera case countrywide. Again we recognise the timely detection and response reactions coordinated by the ZNPHI. The oral cholera vaccines have also proven to be a game changer providing protection to all members of the general public.”

He urged people to drink safe water because the Ministry of Health could not guarantee that they were safe from cholera.

“Let me still add caution to this cholera situation. We are not safe from cholera in so far as we cannot guarantee safe drinking water and appropriate sewerage and solid waste management. Therefore, please ensure that water for use in the household is safe by chlorinating it or at least boiling it before use. Again, let us ensure hand washing with soap at critical time- after use of the toilet, before preparing food, before eating, and indeed let us avoid hand shakes,” said Prof Kasonka.