The government has set up 179 vaccination sites across the country for people to access the AstraZeneca vaccine for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Minister of Health Jonas Chanda disclosed that all ten provinces have vaccination sites which have also been rolled out in some communities to accommodate and facilitate the vaccination of people willing to get the jab.
Dr. Chanda said Zambia expects to receive the next set of vaccines in May 2021 under the COVAX facility.
He has since assured the general public that people willing and volunteering to get the AstraZeneca vaccine will be catered for.
The minister expressed satisfaction that Zambia is recording an upswing in the number of people getting vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic and expressed optimism that the country will exhaust the 228,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before they expire at the end of July, 2021.
Dr. Chanda announced that 4,661 people received the vaccine in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative number of people vaccinated across the country to 26,580, with 8,666 being health workers.
“It is elating to note that Zambia has sustained an upward trajectory on its Covid-19 vaccination strategy. At the rate we are going, we remain hopeful that all the available doses will be taken up before the vaccine expiry date on 29th July 2021”, he said.
The minister stated that government has continued to cooperate and collaborate with partners to mobilise more vaccines in order to ensure that the targeted population accesses the vaccines.
And Dr. Chanda said Zambia has to date not recorded a report of severe side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccination programme which was launched a fortnight ago.
“We also continue to monitor the Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) and so far, there are no reported severe outcomes. The vaccine being administered in Zambia is safe, efficacious and suitable for the country,” said Dr. Chanda.
The minister has also announced that government may start random tests on travellers from both high-risk and non-high-risk countries entering the country as part of heightened efforts to curb the importation of Covid-19 variants.
He said Zambia, like many other countries recording low numbers of Covid-19 cases, risks importing cases and witnessing an upsurge of the outbreak in respective countries.
The minister has therefore advised that those travelling into Zambia are required to have a valid SARS-CoV-2 negative test certificate.
Dr. Chanda said government has upgraded the vaccination record cards and all who have already been vaccinated will be requested to replace their cards.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chanda has disclosed that Zambia recorded 49 new cases of Covid-19 out of 5,500 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.
The minister said nine out of ten provinces reported cases of new Covid-19 infections with Eastern still leading for the third time in a row with 10 cases, Lusaka eight, Luapula seven, North-Western and Southern six each, Muchinga five, Copperbelt four, Central and Western one while Northern reported zero cases.
Dr. Chanda said 24 districts across the country reported the new transmissions with Lusaka reporting seven, followed by Solwezi with five, Chama, Chipata, Kalomo all recorded four each, and Milenge three.
Four districts reported two cases, while 14 districts reported one case each, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded in the country to date at 91,533.
He said the country currently has 45 patients admitted to Covid-19 isolation facilities across the country with 31 on oxygen therapy and nine in critical condition.
Dr. Chanda said 109 Covid-19 patients were discharged from both the Covid-19 isolation facilities and home management, taking the cumulative number of recoveries to 89,852.
He disclosed that a 61-year-old man with underlying medical conditions from Solwezi General Hospital, died bringing the cumulative number of Covid-19 related deaths recorded to-date at 1,250, classified as 702 Covid-19 deaths and 548 Covid-19 associated deaths.
The minister has since urged the general public to continue adhering to Covid-19 public health guidelines and measures of masking up, washing hands, maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowding and staying home and seeking medical attention early.
He further encouraged all eligible Zambians to access the vaccine voluntarily and timely, noting that all countries and communities are at risk of Covid-19 transmission due to increased interactions between people following the lifting of sanctions on travel.