HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo says government has lifted the mandatory wearing of masks, restrictions on public gatherings and the need for physical distancing.

And Civil Service Commission chairperson Peter Mumba says all recruited health workers will soon receive their appointment letters.

At a media briefing, Thursday, Masebo said scientific evidence had shown that the COVID-19 positivity rate had dropped significantly, remaining below five percent in the last one month.

“We have faced challenging times at personal and country level. We recognise the social economic disruptions that accompanied the measures we employed to respond to the pandemic. The restrictions that were mounted, though seemingly tough, were necessitated by the prevailing disease. We have been gradually easing these restrictions guided by scientific evidence. I am glad to note a steady decline in the number of admissions and severe cases requiring oxygen and deaths since January 2022. With the present transmission being low, the test positivity has dropped significantly remaining below five percent in the last one month. This is an indication that the pandemic is indeed under control,” she said.

“In the last 24 hours, we recorded 26 new cases out of 1,380 tests performed giving a national positivity rate of two percent. There were no cases requiring admissions and no COVID related deaths. The number of active cases countrywide remains low with only 336 active cases. With the current scientific evidence, I am pleased to announce that government has decided to lift restrictions, in particular on public gatherings, the need for physical distancing and mandatory wearing of masks. However, those who wish to wear masks for health reasons or indeed other personal reasons may continue to do so. We also wish to strongly encourage wearing of masks in high risk places such as hospitals and clinics because these areas will always continue being high risk areas for communicable disease transmission.”

Masebo said COVID-19 testing would be restricted to those who had symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 testing will also now be restricted to those who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Those admitted to various health facilities countrywide and have symptoms and signs suggestive of COVID-19 and those intending to travel to countries that may require evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result. The Zambia National Public Health Institute and other stakeholders are tasked with the responsibility to safeguard the public’s health security of the country. They must maintain heightened surveillance and disease intelligence that will quickly detect and facilitate a prompt response to any change in the picture. However our country remains threatened with other communicable and non-communicable diseases. We emphasise on prevention of disease and engagement with other communities to provide health education remains at the top of the agenda,” said Masebo.

Meanwhile, Mumba said all recruited health workers would soon receive their appointment letters.

“As a commission, we’re happy to learn that the situation is getting better Covid-wise. We have received quite a number of queries regarding the recent exercise of recruitment of health workers. Some members of the public have expressed concern that certain people who appeared in the newspaper are unable to be given offer letters. There is no need to panic. All we’re assuring our people is that as long as your name appears in the paper, you will certainly be offered an appointment letter,” said Mumba.

“We have taken a bit long because we were just cleaning up the exercise but rest assured that things are under control and please don’t panic. The other issue is we’ve heard, wrongly so, that people are saying if you don’t appear in the database, it means that some unscrupulous workers are trying to replace your name with another name. That’s not true. I know it’s difficult to be patient under the circumstances but try to do so because we’re trying everything possible to make it happen.”