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COVID-19; churches to only meet for one hour, bars 2 hours

HEALTH minister Chitalu Chilufya says the disease intelligence team has identified those who were on the plane with the COVID-19 affected couple.

And the government has announced more measures and regulations to prevent corona virus, including restricting church and other religious meetings to one hour and bars and nighclubs to maximum two hours.

On Wednesday Dr Chilufya announced that Zambia had identified its first Coronavirus cases involving a couple that arrived in Lusaka aboard an Emirates flight after spending several days in France.

Yesterday during a briefing on the current status on COVID-19 in Zambia and globally, Dr Chilufya said the 82 travellers who disembarked in Lusaka were being followed up actively to ascertain risk of exposure.

He said eight close contacts to the affected were in self-quarantine and being tested for COVID-19.

“In our routine travel related disease intelligence, we have screened 29,992 travellers, with 2,258 being persons from high risk areas. Among those from the high risk areas, 460 have been cleared under 14 days quarantine and watch. We continue to investigate alerts as they arise. As of this morning, we do not have any additional cases of COVID-19,” he said.

“Globally, the number of cases recorded as at 08:00GMT, a total of 220,199 cases and 8,982 deaths have been confirmed. Although many persons are still under treatment, 85,769 persons have recovered. Thirty four African countries, including Zambia, have recorded 306 cases and 16 deaths.”

Dr Chilufya announced the additional key measures that have come into force with immediate effect to prevent the COVID-19 from circulating in the community.

He announced the restriction of mass public gatherings, including events, conferences and meetings until further notice.

Dr Chilufya said bars and nightclubs were instructed to immediately reduce opening time to a maximum of two hours.

He said the local authorities and authorised officers would monitor compliance and revoke licenses of those not complying.

Dr Chilufya said restaurants would offer only takeaway services and minimise time of contact with their clients.

“The churches and other religious congregations will reduce the number of persons in each session and meet for a maximum of one hour. With the issuance of SIs 21 & 22 of 2020, all public places are required to ensure provision of hand washing facilities and sanitation. All public places must keep their environments clean, failure to which they risk being closed down,” he said.

Dr Chilufya said there would be suspension of trading activities in all markets this weekend to allow for a thorough clean-up.

He said personal hygiene was key and he urged the members of the public to continue practicing social distancing, avoiding handshakes and close contact.

“All persons displaying symptoms to communicate to our health authorities for advice while remaining in self-quarantine. I wish to assure you that our multisectoral team is working with various stakeholders, including our cooperating partners, church mother bodies, civil societies and some members of the public in ensuring the disease is contained and prevented from escalating,” said Dr Chilufya.

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