Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) country director Professor Victor Mukonka says the country has not recorded any case of Coronavirus but it is investigating three suspected cases.
Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya has called for financial assistance to prevent the outbreak.
Speaking at the multi-sectoral national preparedness meeting on Covid-19, Prof Mukonka said over 1,000 people had been screened so far.
“Egypt has 59 cases but we must worry in the southern region because we now have DRC with one case and the number of cases in South Africa is seven. So it is not something that is very far, it has come and it is going to hit Africa too. The good news is that most of the African countries now is that they have the capacity to make the diagnosis. We have at least 53 countries who are able to do that. Since the outbreak started, we have been screening at our ports of entry. We have screened from the affected countries 1,225. Of these, we have right now 602 whom we are following. And we have 369 that have completed observation after 14 days. We have had 25 alerts once we moved in intensively, and investigating, taking the samples, the good news is that they have turned out to be negative. We have right now three under investigation in the last three days for the sake of rights and privacy, I can’t say where they are,” Prof Mukonka said.
He explained the measures that government had put in place to prevent the disease.
“We have designated isolation facilities of course you can’t put them in common hospitals, they can spread the infection. And we have developed clinical management guidelines. We have trained 176 health workers. We have an isolation facility in Tubalange. We have the laboratory diagnostic capacity to test for the virus. We are running programs both on TV and radio stations. We have opened 909 as a toll free line. Government has put an emergency fund of K57 million to protect our nation from coronavirus. We still have a bit of shortfall for the the partners to see how you can come on to see what areas you can assist. We need about K97,121,215. But to tell you that we have been very active, of course we can’t be announcing to the public but we have moved in quite a number of places to follow the case. We don’t have any case of coronavirus in the country but to say that we have investigated quite a number.”
Prof Mukonke discouraged traveling in view of the outbreak.
“The statutory instrument should be ready today I think our minister should be signing it today that provides us a little bit of extra powers to make COVID-19 a notifiable disease since it is a new disease and it gives provisions which will allow us to help us control the outbreak. We are discouraging travels at this time of the year until the situation comes at a country,” said Prof Mukonke.
And Dr Chilufya said there was need for more funds to prevent the outbreak.
“The Republic of Zambia in expressing concern to this international threat, we have set up a contingency plan fund. Now we do recognize the role of partnerships because that money we have is inadequate so we seek to forge new partnerships, strengthening existing partnerships in order for us to find resources to have an effective response,” said Dr Chilufya.
“In the SADC meeting of health ministers, they did recommend to stop holding face to face meetings in the region but to promote the use of technology to hold regional meetings. There is no better time to ensure that levels of hygiene are raised. This is the number prevention one prevention in our drive”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya urged members of the public to observe guidelines that had been given by the authorities.
“The measures include washing hands regularly with soap and water, avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu- like symptoms, cooking meat,eggs and other animal products thoroughly before eating. Covering one’s nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoid contact with live farm and wild animals” read the statement.
“Government further wishes to call on the media to intensify the dissemination of information of these and other measures widely. The Minister of Health and the Chief government spokesperson will update the nation on the Coranavirus regularly. “