Government has cautiously lifted a number of COVID-19 prevention interventions among them being the staged re-opening of schools, with examination classes opening first.
Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in charge of Technical Services, Kennedy Malama says the rationale behind closing schools was to curtail transmission of COVID-19.
Dr. Malama however says evidence on the harms attributed to closed schools including social, emotional, and behavioural health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant.
He says government through a multisectoral approach led by the Ministries of Education and Health carefully took consideration of the benefits and risks of in-person learning considering the limitations of virtual learning in our country.
The Permanent Secretary said this in Lusaka today during the Covid-19 update.
“I must recognise and congratulate the education sector for the innovative strategies to ensure continued education such as e-learning and education programs through media platforms including TV and radio,” he said.
Dr. Malama explained that government has put in measures to ensure the safety of pupils, students and staff in all educational institutions.
He pointed out that the Ministry of Health continues to support the Ministries of General Education and Higher Education in ensuring a COVID-19 safe zone in the education sector through active surveillance and targeted testing.
And Dr. Malama has announced that the country has recorded a total of Eighty-five (85) new cases of COVID-19 out of 2,050 tests conducted in the last 24 hours with seven discharges from isolation facility in Lusaka.
He said the cases detected were 48 in Lusaka, Copperbelt 18, Northern Province 11 in Muchinga four cases and North Western four through community and point of entry screening, contact tracing and health facility surveillance.
The Permanent Secretary indicated that 60 cases were identified during healthcare facility screening which included 39 in Lusaka, 10 Luanshya, six cases in Kitwe, three in Kasama and two in Mungwi.
The other 25 COVID-19 cases were detected through routine screening including nine in Lusaka, four Nakonde, five from Lunte, three from Kalumbila, two Mufulira, one from Nsama and one from Solwezi.
“We have 8 patients in our isolation centres, Lusaka Levy Mwanawasa Isolation Center has 5 patients with 4 on oxygen therapy, Ndola has 2 with one on oxygen, Kitwe has one patient, Solwezi General Hospital has patient,” he added.
Dr. Malama noted that although the number of patients requiring hospitalization has reduced, it is of great concern that the few patients that are been managed in the COVID-19 centres are presenting with severe disease in critical condition.
“Among our patients in isolation facilities in Lusaka are young patients aged 19 and 21 years old. We have our teams contact tracing to ensure we capture timely anyone of the contacts who may be infected,” he said.
“For a long time the majority of cases needing hospitalization was the middle to older aged. Seeing severe cases in younger people is a concern and justifies the continued insistence to enforcing adherence to public health measures,”
The cumulative number of cases is now 15,982 and includes 346 deaths and 15,038 recoveries.
Globally a total of 40,657,780 COVID-19 cases including 1,123,127 deaths and 30,361,708 recoveries had been confirmed by this morning.