His Excellency the President Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu called for an urgent Cabinet Meeting at which the global problem that has besieged the world today, the coronavirus was seriously discussed.
In view of the extent of the problem, Cabinet approved the creation of a contingency fund for emergency preparedness, prevention and mitigation measures against the new Coronavirus Disease outbreak in order to timely protect the public from the social, economic and cultural effects that the disease may cause.
Due to the rapid and wide geographic spread of the virus outside China, aided by the ease of air transport, on the 30th of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). The implication of such a declaration is that Member States of the WHO are obliged to respond and abide by the International Health Regulations to facilitate the control of international spread of disease.
Therefore, Zambia is expected to put in place measures to prevent, detect, and respond to any potential outbreak of COVID-19. However, since the time the COVID-19 outbreak was declared, Zambia has not recorded any case of the disease.
According to the statistics at global level, as at 2nd March, 2020 there are 87, 137 confirmed cases including 2, 977 deaths; China alone accounts for 79, 968 confirmed cases of which 2, 873 are deaths. Outside the Republic of China, there are 7, 169 confirmed cases to date including 104 deaths. Currently, 58 countries have been affected outside China, three of which are from the African region, namely, Algeria, Egypt and Nigeria. Recently, the numbers of new cases in China have been decreasing steadily showing some progress with interventions being implemented. A number of African countries have reported a number of suspected cases some of which are still under investigation.
At the Continental level, the Africa CDC Secretariat, working through the Regional Collaborating Centers, is providing regular updates and technical support to Member States. The Africa CDC has also scheduled weekly virtual meetings to update Member States on the evolving outbreak situation. As host country for the Africa CDC Regional Collaborating Center for Southern Africa, Zambia is coordinating these initiatives. Within the SADC region, meetings have been held to strategize on addressing preparedness efforts as a united front.
The Ministry of Health through the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) has put in measures in terms of preparedness for mitigation of a COVID-19 outbreak such as training of multisectoral multidisciplinary teams as rapid responders; training of healthcare workers in clinical case management; intensified disease surveillance at points of entry including airports and in health facilities; developed and distributed guidelines for follow-up of all travelers returning from high risk areas; procured and prepositioned personal protective equipment (PPE) in strategic high risk areas and identified isolation facilities to be used in case of any eventualities.
Cabinet is concerned so as to ensure the Zambian population is protected from the COVID-19.
Hon. Dora Siliya, MP.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services and Chief Government Spokesperson.
3rd March, 2020