By STEVEN ZANDE
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has directed that there should be no lockdown as a result of a surge in COVID-19 cases to avoid worsening the national economic situation.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo, has urged Zambians to reduce unnecessary international trips to help stop the spread of the Omicron variant whose cases have been reported from people with international travel history.
Updating the nation on the COVID-19 situation, Ms Masebo said President Hichilema had instructed that Zambia should not go into lockdown despite the looming COVID-19 fourth wave to allow the economy to continue to thrive.
“The instruction or directives from the President are simply that we should not lockdown because it will give negative repercussions which will just be as bad as the COVID-19 itself, “ she said.
Ms Masebo added: “So, at the moment there is no lockdown. And the economy continues to thrive. But there are few measures that we have put in place.”
She said as a result, people were expected to observe COVID-19 regulations and to get vaccinated to help limit the spread of COVID-19 cases, especially the Omicron variant.
Ms Masebo urged Zambians to reduce unnecessary trips for events such as parties and weddings, with a call on people to travel only when necessary for things like education, business and medical purposes.
She urged those attending funerals in large numbers, particularly women, to resist the temptation as many people have been infected at such events.
Ms Masebo said Government would soon announce revised COVID-19 measures after Vice-President WK Mutale-Nalumango had met with other members of the COVID-19 multi-sectoral team.
She said those resisting COVID-19 vaccination were weakening the Government’s resolve to fight the pandemic.
Ms Masebo said Zambia had recoded 157 new COVID-19 cases from 2,715 tests, showing six per cent national positivity, wit cumulative number of COVID-19 cases now standing at 211,234.
She said no COVID-19 death had been recorded and that active cases stood at 875 while new patients in isolation facilities were 10, bringing a total of those in isolation facilities to 21 in Lusaka.
Ms Masebo said of the admitted, 10 patients were on oxygen therapy with only one clarified as being in critical condition, while 14 people were discharged from home management, leaving 854 currently under home management .
Sghe said 44 of the 45 contacts to the eight individuals in whom the Omicron variant was detected were negative to the variant.
“The eight individuals who are still under home quarantine are doing well, only two having mild symptoms, three of those clear of having symptoms have been rested and await results, “ Ms Masebo said.