Minister of Health Silvia Masebo says Zambia has been reclassified as a COVID-19 level 1 (low) risk country under the United States CDC travel guidance.
Ms. Masebo says this follows the country’s continued low proportion of new cases and deaths being reported.
During the daily COVID-19 update, the minister states that studies are currently underway with Johns Hopkins University to model the fourth wave and understand the population at risk.
She said in her daily update that past exposure to the virus, vaccination and waning immunity, and possible new variants are being taken into account.
Ms. Masebo explained that the third wave rose very fast compared to the previous two waves and placed tremendous pressure on the health system, a situation the country has to avoid at all costs.
“If the variants we will see in the fourth are those we have already been exposed to or are weaker than previous variants, this may result in a relatively lower fourth wave.
“ Data from countries that have achieved high vaccination coverage has shown that although this does not avoid future waves altogether, it does greatly impact the severity of waves,” she said.
The Minister stressed the need for the health and safety measures to remain in place by the public as the country continues to plan ahead for the fourth wave.
She said she is saddened that the country continues to see low adherence due to perceived low risk by the public.
Ms. Masebo further warned that low adherence by the public places everyone at greater risk of a possible resurgence as there have already been some spikes in the Ministry’s reported figures.
She assured me that her ministry is currently working to finalize its resurgence plan with support from World Health Organisation (WHO) which will put the ministry in a much better-prepared position to counter any surges in the country’s COVID-19 numbers.
And the country has in the last 24 hours recorded 37 new COVID-19 cases out of the 5,875 tests conducted countrywide representing a 0.6% overall national positivity.
The new cases were reported from seven provinces while Northern and Southern provinces did not report any new cases from the tests conducted, whereas no report was received from Central.
“By district, the new cases were reported from eight districts, of which Kitwe recorded the highest number (23), followed by Lusaka (5), Kasempa (2), Lufwanyama (2), Senanga (2), Chipata (1), Mpika (1), and Nchelenge (1). Our surveillance teams are interrogating the spike observed in Kitwe,” Ms Masebo said in the update.
And no new deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours while the cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths recorded to date stands at 3,662 classified as 2,741 COVID-19 deaths and 921 COVID-19 associated deaths.
Currently, 182 active cases and of those who are admitted, 12 (86%) are on Oxygen therapy, and 4 (29%) are classified as being in critical condition.
She further added that following the 14 discharges made in the last 24 hours, the cumulative number of recoveries recorded to date now stands at 206,008 (98% recovered).
The Minister further noted that 5,658 doses of Johnson and Johnson, 973 Dose 1 and 977 Dose 2 AstraZeneca, 148 Dose 1 and 9 Dose 2 Sino-pharm were administered in the last 24 hours.
“This brings the cumulative number of doses that have been administered to date to 941,396. These are broken down by dose type as follows: 377,914 Dose 1 vaccinations and 563,482 fully vaccinated (of which 364,062 (65%) are the single-dose J&J vaccinations),” she said.
She noted with concern over the unfortunate reports of facilities running out of vaccines as there is enough stock in the country.
She assured the public that the situation will not be allowed to continue as Provinces have been advised to ensure that they implement efficient and effective stock management and that vaccines are reordered from the central level in good time.
“Zambia has not run out of vaccines; we currently have over 32,000 doses in stock and we are scheduled to receive an additional consignment of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca over the next few days,” she assured.
And the minister has dismissed reports of health care workers responding poorly to the vaccination programme.
Ms Masebo explained that the Ministry’s data indicates that over 67% have so far been fully vaccinated and this is not taking into account those that have so far only received one dose.
She added that Zambia and its partners are implementing a basket of vaccines and so far, a decent response to all the vaccines on offer has been seen.
She announced that Zambia is, however, still far from a comfortable level with a target of at least 30% getting vaccinated by December 2021.
She said to address the issue, her ministry has envisaged ensuring commodity availability, heightened levels of information of the target population, and proximity of the service to the communities.
Ms. Masebo reminded the general public that the flu season is here as the country continues to keep an eye on the COVID-19 situation.
The Minister advised that it is the time of the year when other disease outbreaks also come into play.
She said government epidemic preparedness and response structures at the provincial and district levels remain active to pick up and respond to any outbreak reports around the country.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 confirmed cases recorded to date in Zambia now stands at 209,852.