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COVID-19 war ferocious – Chilufya

THIS war we are fighting is ferocious, but it is not insurmountable, says health minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya.

Updating the nation on the COVID-19 yesterday, Dr Chilufya called for collective effort for the country to overcome the pandemic.

He announced that 99 tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, involving 72 truck drivers who entered the country.

He said the tests also involved the contacts of the one patient that died last week.

“Out of these 99 tests that were carried out in the last 24 hours, we recorded zero positive cases. Therefore, Zambia has recorded zero positive cases and this is the fourth consecutive day of zero positive reporting,” Dr Chilufya said. “We therefore remain with the accumulative number of 39 cases with one death. Furthermore, we have discharged two more persons who have seroconverted and have tested negative twice. Therefore, we have recorded two more discharges bringing the total number of discharges to five.”

Dr Chilufya said the 33 that remain in government’s care were stable in isolation facilities in Masaiti and Lusaka.

Globally, Dr Chilufya said 1,277,4346 cases had been recorded with 69,479 deaths.

He said 264,837 cases had recovered from the infection.

He said in Africa, 9,771 cases were recorded with 462 deaths reported in 52 countries.

Dr Chilufya said the SADC regional hub had recorded 1,762 cases with 16 deaths.

“Getting back to home, we continue to intensify surveillance testing, we continue to embark on high impact public health measures to protect the country from cases getting in,” he said.

Dr Chilufya said out of 6,450 high risk cases that travelled to Zambia, 1,598 had completed the 14-day mandatory quarantine.

He said out of the sensitive community surveillance alert system, 351 alerts had been picked up, and all were cleared as non-cases.

He applauded the community for being sensitive.

“The numbers look promising but it is not time to relax. The greatest threats we have is to be complacent. Ladies and gentlemen, we face a very grave threat in public health. It has a possibility of flaring up in no time. You and I ought to act and act now to protect ourselves and the nation from spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Dr Chilufya called for unity of purpose and adherence to guidelines announced in President Edgar Lungu’s address to the nation, recently.

“This war we are fighting is ferocious, but it is not insurmountable, and it will take collective effort for us to overcome it,” Dr Chilufya said.

He emphasized on staying home, avoiding non-essential travel within or outside the country, washing hands with soap and clean water, ensuring hygiene, thoroughly cooking food, social distancing, among measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Dr Chilufya explained that the truck drivers carrying essential goods through Kazungula, Livingstone ports, were screened at port of entry, escorted by police into Lusaka, screened again and quarantined at the University of Zambia (UNZA).

He said apart from screening for clinical symptoms, for signs, tests were conducted and 72 of them tested negative.

Dr Chilufya said the process would continue and anybody coming into the country would be quarantined mandatorily.
He noted that there was a slowdown in the economy but essential services must continue while avoiding a health catastrophe.

During question and answer, Dr Chilufya said the truck drivers were under guard and were not at liberty to move about.

Dr Chilufya said the drivers would be discharged after being tested “but still followed up since incubation period is two to 14 days”.

He assured people of Kalingalinga and UNZA that they were safe.

“We’ll never act irresponsibly to put any community at risk,” he said.

Dr Chilufya said the drivers were being looked after by the government.

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