HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo says 18 Lunte Secondary School girls are admitted to Kasama General Hospital for observations for a sociogenic disorder.

And Masebo says Zambia recorded 158 new COVID-19 cases out of 3,026 tests performed, representing a 5% positivity rate.

Speaking during a press briefing Friday, Masebo said .

“We have yet again been challenged with another public health event. While it is a non-infectious condition, we remain concerned and are responding to a “sociogenic disorder” affecting pupils at Lunte Secondary School in Northern Province. The condition which presents difficulties in walking, weakness in the legs, as well as painful knees and ankles has affected up-to 95 girls since it was first detected on 27th May, 2022. Our health teams at District and Provincial level have conducted physical examinations and collected samples for laboratory testing. So far, all laboratory evaluations have been negative and therefore not pointing to any biological cause. Out of the 95 cases, 77 have fully recovered. Eighteen (18) girls are currently admitted to Kasama General Hospital for observations. These girls were noted to have developed the symptoms yesterday. They are all in a stable condition,” she said

“Our Disease Intelligence agency, the Zambia National Public Health Institute, supported by senior health practitioners including neurologists, physicians, and psychiatrists are on the way to Northern Province to support a comprehensive follow up of this new public health event. I wish to take the opportunity to thank the District and Provincial Health teams for a robust and timely response and management of the situation. As the Ministry of Health, we are confident that the concerted efforts of all our experts, local and from the central level, will help us with a clearer understanding of the factors that have led to this event. I wish to take this opportunity to assure the pupils and their parents, and the general public at large, that our health personnel working closely with the school and the Ministry of Education, are managing the situation.”

And Masebo said the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths now stood at 4,007, of which 2,863 were classified as COVID-19 deaths and 1,144 as COVID-associated deaths.

“This week has seen a doubling in COVID-19 related admissions with a total of 33 new admissions. This is owing to a general increase in infections globally and regionally. In the last 24 hours, we recorded 158 new cases out of 3,026 tests performed, representing a 5% positivity rate. Notably today, Luapula and Northern provinces report zero new cases. On the other hand, positivity in Central, Copperbelt, Lusaka, Southern and Western provinces was above the threshold of below 5% set for controlled community transmission. Although we have seen a slight increase in positivity the last few weeks, we have continued to average around 6%. It is important that as we begin to see a global and regional increase in cases, we continue to all play our part in ensuring that we stop the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to adhere to the public health and safety guidance,” she said

“Of the new cases, eight were admitted whereas 205 patients, all from home-based care, were discharged. Sadly, since the last update on Monday, we have recorded four new deaths – two on Wednesday, One on Thursday and the fourth within the last 2hrs. Two of the deaths were classified as associated deaths, and the other two as COVID-19 deaths. Our cumulative number of deaths now stands at 4,007, of which 2,863 have been classified as COVID-19 deaths and 1,144 as COVID-associated deaths.We currently have 1,209 active cases countrywide. Of these, 35 (3%) are admitted to COVID-19 facilities with 13 on oxygen and four are classified as being in critical condition.”

She said the national vaccination coverage was now at 41.7%, with over 4.5 million people having been fully vaccinated.

“Our prevention and control measures remain the same. Vaccination against COVID-19 remains a key intervention to limit spread and severity of COVID-19 disease. We are currently vaccinating persons aged 12 years and above, including pregnant women and the elderly. Government continues to facilitate the securing of vaccines and providing the services as close to the community as possible. This week, we have received 657,540 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility; 168,000 doses out of a total of 500,760 doses of Pfizer expected from the Italian Government; and 950,350 out of the pledged 4.5 million doses of Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government of Canada through the COVAX facility. In the last 24 hours, we recorded 14,457 dose 1 vaccinations, 35,409 dose 2 vaccinations and 4,061 booster vaccine doses. Our national vaccination coverage is now at 41.7%, with over 4.5 million people having been fully vaccinated. We will continually strive to make steady progress towards our target of 70% for assured herd immunity,” said Masebo

“Observance of the five golden rules is another key intervention. This includes masking up consistently and correctly, maintenance of good hands and general body as well as environmental hygiene. We continue to emphasise physical distancing, no crowding and early health seeking behaviour. I am happy to reveal the measles outbreak is under control. Mushindamo, Solwezi and Kalumbila Districts have recorded a cumulative of 25 cases. Three (3) of the patients were co infected with rubella. We have not recorded any new cases in the last 24 hours.”