THE dreaded fourth wave has taken its toll on Christmas, with Government now announcing new regulations.
Numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases jumped from hundreds a few weeks ago to thousands in recent days.
Hospital admissions have been low but the spike in cases has now seen new restrictions being imposed and the postponement of schools opening.
“We must respond with an equally strong and aggressive reaction. The Government over time has put in place various measures to prevent and control the pandemic while making efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of the disease on people’s livelihoods and the economy,” Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo announced.
“The Government remains committed to ensuring the safety of its people in terms of health as well as social and economic status. Recognising health as a key determinant of social and economic well-being, the Government under the Leadership of the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema has emphasised particular public health and social measures to prevent and control the Covi-19 pandemic in the country.”
The Health Minister disclosed that there have been a number of public health measures introduced by Government during the various stages of the pandemic, which have been modified from time to time.
The current public health and social measures in force are:
1. The Public Health Act CAP 295 of the Laws of Zambia remains the principal law from which statutory instruments 21, 22 and 62 were drawn:
i. Statutory Instrument 21 of 2020 designates Covid-19 as a notifiable disease. This means that all cases of Covid-19 must be reported to health authorities and documented accordingly.
ii. Statutory Instrument 22 of 2020 provides additional regulations to facilitate management and control of Covid-19.
iii. Statutory Instrument 62 of 2020 provided for clear guidelines on gatherings; restricting events in hot spots and demanding clearance from the health authorities to gather.
2. Considering all the above legal provisions the following guidance is given emphasising on adherence to the five golden rules. All public premises must provide adequate handwashing and sanitation facilities with running water.
i. Bars, Casinos, nightclubs, shall operate from 17:00 to 23:00hrs but strictly adhere to the public health and social measures including physical distancing and no crowding.
ii. Restaurants shall operate normally but strictly adhere to the public health and social measures including physical distancing and no crowding.
iii. Weddings, funerals and social events shall take place but strictly adhere to the five golden rules while limiting numbers to not more that 50 at each event.
iv. Religious gatherings are limited to an hour 3 times a week.
v. Sports and concerts – indoor events are discouraged. For all events, strict adherence to the prescribed public health measures is emphasised.
vi. Meetings, conferences, and workshops – while physical meetings are discouraged, these will take place with restriction on numbers to be determined by the health authorities. Hybrid or virtual meetings are encouraged.
vii. Schools & institutions of learning will remain open with strict adherence to the ‘5 golden rules’. Surveillance activities in these institutions will continue.
viii. Points of entry including travel – the borders remain open but travellers will be screened at points of entry. The travellers may be subjected to self-quarantine or healthcare facility management if required.
Furthermore, the traveller must provide a PCR test SARS-CoV-2 negative certificate. The certificate is valid for a test done within 72 hours prior to departure.
ix. Trading places – will operate within normal hours with strict adherence public health and social measures. Premises abrogating the public health measures may be closed down.
x. Work places – to avoid crowding, the workforce must work on rotational basis. Vaccination of staff must be encouraged.
The restrictions, however, are not being adhered to which has resulted in escalating cases across the country
Yesterday it was announced that 3,672 new cases had been confirmed from 13,721 tests conducted countrywide, giving an overall national positivity of 27%.
The breakdown of the new cases and within province positivity were:
• Central province 445 (38%)
• Copperbelt province 965 (30%)
• Eastern province 91 (15%)
• Luapula province 132 (20%)
• Lusaka province 1,014 (31%)
• Muchinga province 131 (25%)
• Northern province 41 (68%)
• North-western province 270 (23%)
• Southern province 453 (29%)
• Western province 130 (19%)
It is clear that the Covid-19 situation is country wide and requires action as the cumulative number of confirmed cases recorded to date stands at 228,932.
“Regrettably, we recorded three new deaths in the last 24 hours, all from Lusaka. All three deaths have been classified as Covid-19 associated deaths. The three were aged between 33 and 69,” Ms Masebo said.
The National vaccination programme had aimed to reach two millikn by Chrsotmas and the Ministry of Health has thanked the public for their cooperation in the national fight especially all those who remain compliant to the prescribed public health measures for the prevention and control of Covid-19.
Too many families are spending a mournful Christmas owing to the Coronavirus pandemic and the best we can do is to reduce the chances of spreading the virus.
Let us celebrate Christmas responsibly.