3,346 people died in 2021 from COVID-related complications, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo has announced.
The death toll was from the 236,958 COVID-19 cases recorded.
Ms. Masebo says of the cases recorded, 51 percent were among males and 49 percent among females.
32,949 representing 14 percent of the total cases were among people below 18 years while 86 percent were among those above 18 years old.
The Health Minister said among the many people who succumbed to the disease were civic and traditional leaders, healthcare workers and responders.
“The pandemic was worse in 2021 compared to the previous year, in which we recorded 20,725 cases including 388. This is mainly due to the appearance of new variants of the virus. This includes the Alpha, Beta and Delta variants, of which the delta was the cause of majority of infections, severe disease and deaths during the third wave. We are currently battling with the Omicron variant, which is more contagious and spreading fast across our communities,” she said.
“In 2021, we launched our national COVID-19 vaccination program as part of our response efforts to the pandemic. With support from Cooperating Partners and other stakeholders, Government successfully mobilized five types of COVID-19 vaccines, which are available across the country.”
She added, “As of 31 December 2021, more than 1,750,959 vaccinations were administered to our people. You will also recall that in an effort to improve the protection of our citizens, last week, the Government introduced booster vaccinations and also lowered the minimum eligible age from 18 years to 12 years, so as to cater for older children. Our vaccination campaign will continue until we reach the target of vaccinating over 70% of our eligible population, by June 2022.”
Ms. Masebo however said that over 200,000 patients recovered successfully and were discharged from COVID-19 treatment facilities across the country representing a recovery rate of 86 percent.
She has attributed the increase in cases and deaths last year compared to 2020 to the appearance of new variants such as the delta, Alpha and Beta of which the delta caused majority of infections, severe disease and deaths during the third wave.
Meanwhile, Ms. Masebo said the country in the last 24 hours recorded 1,544 new confirmed COVID-19 cases from 5754 tests conducted and 10 deaths.
She added that through Genomic Sequencing efforts, the country has detected the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in an additional 88 samples, all collected from Lusaka District bringing the number of Omicron variants detected so far to 197.
“We currently have 337 patients admitted to COVID-19 isolation centres across the country, among whom 105 patients are on oxygen. We continue to observe that more than 85% of the admitted patients are unvaccinated. I regret to also announce that we recorded 10 deaths.