Covid-19 cases still worrisome

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Dr Chanda

THE announcement of less than a thousand laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases yesterday is not comforting in that it may indicate a failure in testing.

Zambia has made the unprecedented milestone of 70,248 coronavirus with 974 Covid-19 related deaths.

The positivity rate at 18% may seem fair, but news from across the globe raise the nagging worry about Covid-19 variants.

The Ministry of Health has reiterated that health teams at different points of entry have put in place measures that will help avoid the importation of different strains of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and other infectious disease.

Preliminary reports from South Africa show people who have recovered from Covid-19 have been reinfected with a new, more contagious variant of the virus, World Health Organization officials said at a press briefing Friday.

According to a CNBC report, the good news, however, is that the vaccines developed to guard against the virus appear to reduce the severity of illness in those who do develop Covid-19, even if it doesn’t completely protect them from infection, said the World Health Organisation’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

“The [vaccine] trials that have been done so far in South Africa as well as in Brazil with different candidates have shown complete protection against severe disease and hospitalization and death. There hasn’t been a single case reported in any of the trials,” she said.

Vaccination may also decrease the spread of new Covid variants, according to the WHO.

“There are reports now that if you have the vaccine and you get infected, the viral load is much lower. So the chances of infecting others may be lower,” said Swaminathan.

Prior Covid-19 infection produces antibodies and cell mediated immunity that are thought to prevent reinfection, scientists have found. Vaccination also helps individuals build protection against the virus.

But researchers continue to study the extent to which prior infection and vaccination protect against the new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Increased vaccination efforts alone are likely insufficient in managing the spread of the coronavirus strain originating in the U.K., Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC last Thursday. Gottlieb said a combination of incoming warmer weather and ramped up vaccinations could help contain the variant.

Swaminathan at the WHO briefing last week stressed the importance of vaccinated people continuing to take precautions such as mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing to control the spread of the virus.

Minister of Health Dr Jonas Chanda has also explained that surveillance and case management teams have remained committed to halting the community transmission of the coronavirus, adding that all cases receive the appropriate care and management.

Dr. Chanda in the daily briefing expressed hope that the fight against Covid-19 will be won.

He noted that reduced numbers of Covid-19 cases being recorded in admission centres countrywide was an indication that the country will overcome the pandemic.

He has since stressed the need for people not to relent but continue adhering to the public health guidelines.

“We continue to conduct onsite mentorship and trainings for our frontline staff in order to strengthen case management and ensure standardized quality of care countrywide,” he noted.

Dr. Chanda has meanwhile commended religious leaders for the continued role they are playing in encouraging behavioural change among congregants attending church services.

He has further praised the tradition leaders in their chiefdoms for the support in ensuring that there is adherence to public guidance.

Lusaka province recorded five deaths while Copperbelt had three, bringing the cumulative number of Covid-19 related deaths to 959 and classified as 501 Covid-19 deaths and 458 Covid-19 associated deaths.

Dr. Chanda explained that of the active cases, 318 are admitted to Covid-19 isolation facilities with 221 on oxygen therapy and 29 in a critical condition while 5,709 cases are under community management.

More people are now managing the virus from home and this is something that will form the “new normal”.

The challenge, however, is how to keep Covid-19 positive people from infecting others, when they themselves have no symptoms.

It takes true patriotism to stay home, when positive.

Hopefully, more people will take up their responsibility of protecting others from Covid-19 infection by staying at home for the recommended numbers of days while adhering to public health guidelines.

For thise who suspect that they have Covid-19, it is hoped that they will seek the test and truly contribute to reducing Covid-19 infections and possible admission by treating symptoms early.

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