[By Melony Chisanga and Oliver Chisenga]
ZAMBIA has recorded an additional six cases in the last 24 hours bringing the number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 28.
Health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya announced at the media briefing yesterday that six more cases were traced from the cluster of contacts of Zambians who arrived from Pakistan a fortnight ago.
Dr Chilufya said as of yesterday, 335 people were tested for the COVID-19 out of which the six tested positive.
He said out of the 28 confirmed cases, 26 were being kept in isolated facilities in Lusaka and all connected to the group that came in from Pakistan while the two were on the Copperbelt.
Dr Chilufya said no other cases had been traced to the first two cases Zambia recorded of the couple that had travelled to France for a holiday.
“Today, Zambia has recorded another six laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases following laboratory confirmation in the last 24 hour. Three of the new cases are part of the cluster of travel to Pakistan and the other three are contacts to the confirmed COVID-19 cases. This brings the total number of cases in Zambia to 28,” Dr Chilufya announced.
Since breaking out last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the coronavirus has killed over 27,000 with a record 597,267 cases globally in 199 countries and territories.
Africa has recorded 4,146 cases with 115 deaths in 47 countries and territories.
Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu yesterday posted a video of a special Cabinet meeting where a lockdown was debated.
Health minister Chitalu Chilufya proposed a total lock down but his finance counterpart Dr Bwalya Ngandu objected saying he did not have money to buy food to feed people in their houses.
Dr Chilufya then requested to resubmit the proposal so that he specifies how essential movements and services would be allowed but still, the Vice-President Inonge Wina opposed, saying ministers need to understand that the President would need to invoke certain provisions of the constitution so that he could be covered if he allowed the Army to go on the streets.
President Lungu argued that a lockdown was not feasible because Zambia had already been locked out.
He said fuel trucks destined for Zambia had been marooned in Mozambique and feared that this situation would eventually shut down the economy.
But Dr Ng’andu said even without a total lockdown, “we are beginning to see a negative impact on the economy”.
“We are beginning to see the reduction in Value Added Tax, in terms of customs duty and in terms of revenues we get from…. From where I am, my own means are limited. I can clearly see that if we have a total lockdown of this economy, we do not have the resources, for example, to buy food. If you lock down and people are not moving, those of us who have fridges can afford but for ordinary person in Kamitondo, we have to find some means in which we will be taking food to these people,” Dr N’gandu said.
Then Dr Chilufya said: “The word lockdown, I can hear from the feedback has been misunderstood. I would like to resubmit and make corrections. The word lockdown, we are not talking about a shut down of everything, I should put it correctly that I have used wrong terminology that’s why I am asking to resubmit. Essential services will continue and these are essential services include buying and selling of food, which can be put as number one. If people don’t eat, their health is hacked. Things like buying food, selling food that is preserved.”