Health Minister Jonas Chanda has disclosed that the Global Fund has released 22 million United States Dollars for the fast track procurement of equipment and supplies for frontline health workers in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr Chanda said health workers have to be adequately equipped to sustain the fight against the pandemic.
“It is equally important that our front line health workforce remains adequately equipped to sustain the response. In this regard, $22,000,000 (Twenty-two million US Dollars) has been made available through the Global Fund for the fast track procurement of response commodities, including diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment, oxygen kits and medical supplies. And as has been announced before, government with support from UNICEF and Cooperating partners will be constructing a $1 million US Dollar Oxygen Plant on the Copperbelt province to be located at Kitwe Teaching Hospital,” he said.
And Dr Chanda said his ministry will soon hold bilateral meetings with the private sector to explore additional options for the acquisition of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“As we continue to make headway with the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the Zambian government under the able leadership of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu through the Ministry of Health has scheduled a number of bilateral meetings with private and non-state actors to explore other options for vaccine acquisition to contribute to our vaccine basket which will comprise only those vaccines which meet the safety and efficacy criteria, as well as be logistically feasible in terms of the Cold Chain,” he said.
The minister also announced the continued reduction in the number of COVID-19 admissions at health centres.
“We continue to see an encouraging trend in the reduction in the number of case admissions to our COVID-19 isolation facilities, with only 92 in-patients today from the highs of over 500 at the peak of the second wave in January 2021. However, the number of our critically ill patients remains stable,” he added.
He however warned that the public should not be relaxed despite the recent gains made.
“Our test positivity has been below 5% for almost two weeks. According to the World Health Organisation recommendation, a test positivity below 5% is a good indicator that community transmission is being brought under control. However, this is not to say that we must let down our guard. On the contrary, now more than ever, with the imminent threat of a third wave upon us with the coming cold season, we must do all we can to sustain our efforts, particularly our community interventions to ensure that we avert a worst-case scenario,” Dr Chanda said.
Meanwhile two people have died from Muchinga Province from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.
“There were two new deaths recorded from Muchinga province in the last 24 hours”, he said.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded remains at 1,202 classified as 669 COVID deaths and 533 COVID-19 associated deaths.
Dr Chanda said a combined 55 discharges were recorded from both the COVID-19 isolation facilities and home management, bringing the cumulative number of recoveries to 84,519 (96%).
He said at present the country has 2,478 active COVID-19 cases, of whom 2,386 (96%) are under community management and 92 (4%) are admitted to COVID-19 isolation facilities.
Among those admitted, 76 (83%) are on Oxygen therapy and 15 (16%) are in critical condition
Dr Chanda further disclosed that 187 new cases out of 6,356 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.
The cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date is 88,199.
“The new cases broken down by province are as follows: 42 Lusaka, 32 Muchinga, 23 Copperbelt, 18 Luapula, 17 Southern, 14 Western, 13 North-western, 12 Eastern, 11 Northern, and 5 Central. The province with the highest positivity rate was Muchinga (11%) while Lusaka and Southern had the lowest positivity (2%),” he said.
And the Minister announced that Zambia will tomorrow March 31, 2021 host Southern Africa Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC) of the Africa CDC with Vice President Inonge Wina expected to officiate at the launch.
“The Southern Africa RCC has been instrumental in supporting countries in capacity building for public health security and strengthening disease surveillance and evidence-based emergency response. The RCC will be officially launched tomorrow 31st March 2021, by Her Honour the Vice President, Mrs. Inonge Mutukwa Wina, MP under the theme “Ensuring effective preparedness and response to current public health threats in the context of COVID-19 and beyond” at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre,” he disclosed.
Other noted dignitaries to be in attendance include the Africa CDC Director, Dr. John Nkengasong, Dr Moussa Mahamat Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Her Excellency Amira El Fadil, Acting Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union Commission.
The launch will be broadcast virtually in line with the COVID-19 public health guidelines