Editor's Comment

Adhere to health guidelines

FROM left: Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya, Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Higher Education Brian Mushimba, Minister of General Education David Mabumba and Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit national coordinator Chanda Kabwe during a press briefing at Ministry of Health Headquarters in Lusaka yesterday. PICTURE: CHONGO SAMPA

SINCE the first two coronavirus (COVID-19) cases were announced by Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya, the number keeps rising.
Six more new cases have been confirmed following laboratory tests. The suspected cases tested positive, bringing the total to 35 cases.
The group, which travelled to Pakistan for a religious activity, remains the main source of new infections. Of the 35 cases, nine are local persons connected to this group, which includes a house maid.
Despite the increase from the time the first cases were announced, it is still too early to tell how widespread the virus is until the country reaches about 14 days from the day the first case was reported.
The virus has an incubation period of about 14 days and citizens should, therefore, give it up to next week realistically.
With the upsurge in numbers of COVID-19 cases, Zambians should know that the virus is here and the challenge is for citizens to continue preaching and observing the preventive measures so that it does not escalate.
A real indicator of how widespread the virus is, is dependent on the number of tests that are being carried out.
Screening and testing of COVID-19 must, therefore, be enhanced, especially in areas where it has been reported, including in public places such as bus stations and markets.
There is need for continuous education to the masses on the preventive measures that have been ascribed and planning for the worst-case scenario.
Currently, the country may have a few cases but there is need to plan for the worst-case scenario so that citizens are in a proactive mode and not reactive situation.
Every second counts and we should take advantage of this slow start and plan accordingly.
People should follow the Ministry of Health prevention measures strictly.
There is also need to follow up and screen all those who went to Pakistan, South Africa and other high-risk areas in March to quarantine them.
Also needed is the stringent adherence to medical experts’ advice at individual, family, community and national levels.
All those who came in close contact with such travellers should be screened and quarantined since self-quarantine seems not to be working in Zambia.
For instance, Dr Chilufya appealed to passengers who recently returned to Zambia aboard Emirates, Turkish, Kenyan and South African airlines from March 15 this year to date that they should be under self-quarantine.
At the rate things are going, a total lockdown would be an alternative to augment measures announced by President Edgar Lungu last week.
President Lungu announced a partial lockdown, which culminated into the closure of bars, gymnasiums, restaurants, restricting public gatherings to 50 people and the closure of three international airports, restricting international travellers to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport for effective and efficient screening and testing.
Behavioural change is key to containing this disease. People must heed advice and stay home as much as possible.
Work should be done remotely wherever possible. There is also need to close certain non-essential businesses, but to effectively do that, Government, cooperating partners and the private sector must think around what financial support can be offered to people like marketeers to cushion the impact of closing such trading places.
Since the virus first appeared in China’s Hubei Province, it has infected over 700,000 people and killed more than 34,000 across the world in less than four months.

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