Zambia Situation Report, 20 August 2020

Situation Report
Originally published



The number of cases continues to increase with over 10,000 cases as 19 August. The majority of new cases are locally transmitted.

Over 80 per cent of deaths reported occurred outside health facilities indicating a higher community transmission and severe cases not seeking treatment from health facilities.

Out of the country's 116 districts, 48 have confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Poor compliance to prevention measures, such as use of masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing and limited laboratory testing, remain key challenges to the COVID-19 response.

According to Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), 50 per cent of primary school children and over 35 per cent of secondary school children are spending time on education at home.

Situation Overview

The COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate since the first reported case on the 18 March 2020. The outbreak has reached all ten provinces and 48 out of 116 districts have confirmed cases. Lusaka and Copperbelt remain the epicentre for the outbreak with increased cases in border point towns including Chirundi, Solwezi and Nakonde. The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced it will open dedicated health facilities to strengthen case management and respond to the increased cases in Copperbelt and Solwezi districts.

As of 19 August, Zambia had confirmed 10,218 (vs 4,481 on 29 July, vs 1,632 on 6 July) and 266 deaths (vs139 on 29 July, vs 35 on 6 July). The overall positivity rate of specimens received daily in COVID-19 testing laboratories has reportedly risen from 1.8 per cent to over 25 per cent in one month, calling for a scaling up of testing for early detection of cases in communities to avoid further spreading, according to MoH. Additionally, there is a fourfold increase in the average number of daily reported cases from 52 the week ending 9 July to 248 ending the week of the 9 August. Over 80 per cent of reported COVID-19 deaths happen outside of the health facility indicating a high community transmission rate. MoH reported a worsening of the profile of illnesses and associated increase in the number of patients requiring oxygen and life support in isolation spaces.

With the recent increase in cases in the community the Government of Zambia continued to prioritize and strengthen risk communication and community engagement in adhering to public health mitigation efforts. On the 11 August the Ministry of Home Affairs announced it would deploy police officers to ensure that people are following COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

Bars and nightclubs which flout the regulations are emptied by Zambian police. Further, the Zambian Police Service warned that those without masks will be fined or arrested. Travellers arriving in country will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 certificate within the previous 14 days line with MOH guidelines according to the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited. Travellers without the document will not be allowed into the country. On 3 August 2020, the UN in Zambia closed its offices to reinforce mitigation measures against the virus following positive confirmation of COVID-19 among staff. As of 17 August, a total of 10 UN staff and 5 dependents have been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

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