HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo says Central Province has vaccinated over 70 percent of its eligible population against COVID-19, followed by Copperbelt Province which is at 63 percent.

Speaking during a COVID-19 press briefing, Monday, Masebo, however, expressed concern that despite being the capital city, Lusaka had continued recording low vaccination rates.

“Let me congratulate Central Province, the medical staff there and the people of the Central Province, you are number one and well done. [I] just wish that all the other provinces especially Lusaka, you call yourself a capital city, meaning you have everything at your doorstep but yet you are the last. Let us ensure that more people get vaccinated then we shall be safe. I am happy to report that in the past week, we saw an increase in the number of people receiving their first dose and booster vaccinations. It is evident that the vaccination programme has had a tremendous impact on the pandemic, resulting in fewer severe cases, and even fewer deaths,” she said.

“To date, close to 5 million people country-wide are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The national full vaccination coverage now stands at 45.6%. It gives me great pleasure to announce that Central Province has officially crossed the 70% target with Copperbelt Province coming in close behind at 63%. It is our fervent hope that our continued efforts will result in similarly high vaccination rates across all provinces and set us on our way to achieving herd immunity.”

And Masebo said in the last 24 hours, the country recorded 66 new COVID-19 cases out of 1,217 tests conducted.

“This past week also saw a marked reduction in new admissions and deaths, with only 11 patients requiring admission and two deaths recorded, compared to 25 new admissions and 5 deaths the week before. Both deaths were classified as COVID-19 deaths. We commiserate with the bereaved families. In the last 24 hours, we recorded 66 new cases out of 1,217 tests conducted, representing a national positivity rate of 5%. The cases were from 17 districts across eight provinces; Northern and Southern provinces did not record any new cases. Only one of the new cases, from Lusaka, required admission in the last 24 hours, while conversely 186 discharges were made from both home-based care and facility management. We did not record any COVID-19 related deaths in the last 24 hours,” said Masebo.

“This week on 28th July, we will commemorate World Hepatitis Day under the theme ‘Hepatitis can’t wait! Bringing hepatitis care closer to you’. In Zambia, 6% of adults have Hepatitis B. The burden is higher among men living with HIV with about 10% of them having the virus. Hepatitis B also affects children in Zambia and the burden is also highest among children living with HIV at 6% compared to 1.2% amongst HIV-negative children. Notably, 90% of people living with Viral Hepatitis are unaware that they have the disease. This is a cause of concern because the virus continues to spread and cause disease and death among people and the general population. As part of the commemoration activities lined up for the week, we will provide testing and treatment services close to the public for easy access to services.”