Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says Zambia has recorded four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 16 as at Thursday.
Speaking during a media briefing, Thursday, Dr Chilufya said three out of the four additional cases had travelled from Pakistan and one of them, a resident of Luanshya, had been in contact with the traveller from Pakistan on their return flight to Lusaka from Dubai.
“The number of laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases in Zambia has risen to 16. We have recorded four new cases, and three cases involve individuals with history of travel to Pakistan. One case involved a citizen who is based in Luanysha that was was on the same flight from Dubai to Lusaka when they interacted with one of the passengers that came from Pakistan,” Dr Chilufya said.
“The forth case involved a Zambian again who travelled to Pakistan on March 9th and returned on March 18th. When we followed up this case, we did discover that there were a number of people who did travel to Pakistan. We noticed that the number was much more than the number that we thought. And in following up all these cases and their contacts, that is how we managed to identify the eight cases that added to the four to make it 12. The four cases that we are talking about today again, three are related to the Pakistan trip and also the third was related, being in contact with one of the people who travelled [to Pakistan].”
He said the four cases that were recorded came from the 54 tests of possible contacts with those that travelled to Pakistan that where tested on Wednesday.
“We want to assure you that the multi-sectoral team that is being involved in contact tracing surveillance has escalated its interventions in line with the marching orders given by President Edgar Lungu. We are following up every contact associated with the cases that got into the country and like I said earlier on, the 16th case is based in Luanshya and we also know that one of the people that travelled back from Pakistan travelled to Petauke and we are currently following up everybody,” Dr Chilufya said.
“It is important to note that it is the alert awareness system that picks up such cases. We picked somebody in Luanshya who just sat next to the forth positive case on one of the airplanes. When we discovered that this person was positive, we looked at the contacts, beginning with the people that sat next or in close proximity to this person on the flight.”
He said the government was transparent in releasing information about the cases recorded in the country and assured people that the country was well equipped with test kits and ventilators to handle the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus.
“We are transparent as a government in releasing information. There is no value in us hiding any information. There are no health workers reported yet to have acquired COVID-19. We do acknowledge that health workers are at high risk and as a matter of fact, there are many jurisdictions that have shown vulnerability from COVID-19 and we have put in place measures to ensure that our front-line staff are protected from getting COVID-19. We have not reported any case of a front liner getting COVID-19,” said Dr Chilufya.
“We have adequate test kits in the country and we continue getting support from our various partners. We have adequate ventilators strategically positioned in various parts of the country and we are ready for the initial cases. We continue to invest in equipment as part of our modernisation programme.