LUSAKA, (Wednesday, 13th January, 2021)
His Excellency, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia has said agencies entrusted to
enforce the covid-19 guidelines should refrain from abusing and harassing citizens found flouting the rules.
And President Lungu says measures he announced last year to stem the spread of covid-19 are still in force and all citizens must comply, stating that if they do not, he will announce stringent measures to protect populations from the pandemic.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has emphasised home-based care solutions, include “steaming”(in local parlance Ukufutikila), as proven remedies for covid-19.
The President says it is regrettable that enforcement officers have lately abused or humiliated citizens found flouting covid-19 guidelines.
The President says enforcement officers can make citizens abide by the covid- 19 guidelines without necessarily harassing them.
President Lungu has, however, said the number of people that have contracted covid-19 since the turn of the year and those who have died is of great concern.
The President says there is correlation between the high numbers of cases and the relaxed observance of covid-19 guidelines in the current spike.
“Arguably we dropped the guard. The covid-I9 guidelines I had announced last year as recommended by health experts were largely ignored and we forgot about the ‘New normal towards the end of 2020,” the President said.
President Lungu added that the festive season came with partying and overcrowding with little observance of the covid-19 health guidelines.
“In September during my Address to Parliament, I partially reopened bars, taverns and nightclubs with serious caution that all covid-19 health guidelines are strictly adhered to. These outlets were to operate from 18:00 hours to 23:00 from Friday to Sunday.
This was on a pilot basis and I said should there be any flouting of these public heath guidelines, I will be left with no option but to close them again,” the President said.
President Lungu said at no time did he allow these outlets to open daily but this is what is obtaining at the moment leading to the situation citizens are in.
The President has since made a clarion call aligned to the Public Health ACT CAP. 295 of the Laws of Zambia and COVID-19 associated Statutory Instruments Nos. 21, 22 and 62 of 2020 that:
1. All citizens must w e a r masks and practice good hand hygiene when in public places and gatherings. Masks must be worn correctly if they are to provide the intended protection.
2. All public facilities and hosts of public gatherings must ensure provision of hand washing facilities or alcohol-based hand sanitisers and enforce the use of masks in these facilities.
3. The local authorities will facilitate disinfection of conveyances and public places including markets, bus stops and stations, shopping malls, places of worship, schools and office places; the owners of the public vehicles are directed to ensure passengers wear masks and are provided with hand hygiene facilities before embarking onto the vehicles. Drivers flouting the rules will have their licences revoked.
4. Enforcement of public health measures in bars must be in place; the conditions for opening bars must be adhered to. Failure to adhere to these measures may lead to the withdrawal of trading and liquor licences.
5. All leaders, be it traditional, religious, political, or civil are called upon to lead their followers in adherence to public health measures.
The President says failure to follow these guidelines will invite stringent measures to curb the rise in the number of covid-19 cases.
The President expects the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Ministry of Health to ensure bar, tavern and nightclub owners and patrons strictly observe the opening days and hours, and the public health regulations, guidelines and certifications.
Conversely, the President expects the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education to ensure schools, colleges, and universities adhere strictly to public health regulations, guidelines, and certification when they open.
The President says, “All relevant authorities, including parents and guardians must contribute to the protection of pupils and students.”
The President has also urged frontline workers, in charge of testing to ensure they make available contacts that people can use to call them when they feel unwell.
I’ am aware that sometimes the results are made available when some people have already recovered but may have infected other people. Therefore, we need to expedite the availing of results to our citizens,” the President said.
President Lungu has, however, commended all Frontline workers for their courage and resilience when looking after covid-19 patients.
These are Men and Women of the Year 2020 because without them thousands of lives would have been lost,” the President said.
The President mourns with all bereaved families and wishes all citizens God’s protection and blessings.
President Lungu adds that Home-based care solutions such as “steaming”, using eucalyptus leaves, consuming vitamin C, ginger, garlic, honey and cinammon concoctions are some of the tested remedies that health experts are recommending.
“All of us are either affected, infected or even re-infected,”the President said.