The Ministry of Health has disclosed that the prevalent flu-like illness in Lusaka is not Covid-19.
Samples of the flu-like illness were presented to Lusaka District Health Office on 27th April, 2022 for tests and proved not to be Covid-19.
Minister of Health, Sylvia Masebo, explained that the disease intelligence team, led by the Zambia National Public Health Institute, investigated the upsurge in flu-like illnesses which were presented around the University of Zambia (UNZA) Great East Road Campus and none of the patients were positive for Covid-19.
Ms. Masebo said a total of 40 samples were collected and tested at the National Virology Laboratory based at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and the investigation revealed that all except one, were infected with influenza H3N2.
She said in a statement made available to ZANIS that influenza is a common respiratory disease that affects people globally and it is a common cold flu with signs and symptoms similar to those presented in Covid-19.
“The signs and symptoms include fever, chills, headache, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, congestion of chest and runny nose. Some people have vomiting and even diarrhea, though this is more common in children than in adults,’’ explained Ms. Masebo.
She said the age range of those infected was 14 to 47 years with 23 being male and 16 females.
Ms. Masebo further explained that influenza is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.
The viruses spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, releasing droplets with the virus into the air and potentially into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.
‘’This is the same way Covid-19 is transmitted. Persons at higher risk of influenza include those under two years old or 65 years and older, pregnant women or those who recently gave birth and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease or HIV,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Masebo has advised members of the general public to continue the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by observing the five golden rules which apply effectively in the prevention and control of influenza and other infections.
She disclosed that in the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded 24 new Covid-19 cases out of 2,067 tests conducted.
She said of the 24 new cases, eight were admitted to treatment facilities.
Ms. Masebo further said four new Covid-19 associated deaths were recorded adding that all of them were unvaccinated individuals.
We urge all eligible persons to please get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity. The vaccines are safe, effective and freely available at numerous centres dotted around the country,’’ she said.
Ms. Masebo added that close to 2.5 million people and over 110,000 have received their booster vaccination.
She also said 260,000 children between the age of 12 and 17 years have received their first dose and of those, 39,979 are fully vaccinated.
“As the school holidays draw to a close, we urge all parents to ensure that their eligible children are vaccinated for the upcoming term,” she advised.