THE Ministry of Health has so far investigated 24 cases of suspected coronavirus, Parliament heard yesterday. Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya told Parliament that all the investigated cases came out negative. Dr Chilufya said those investigated are Zambians, Chinese and other nationals. He said this in response to Mkushi South Member of Parliament (MP) Davies Chisopa (PF) who, during a followup question, wanted to know how many people have been quarantined on suspicion of having the virus.
This was after the minister presented a ministerial statement on coronavirus. The minister said no Zambian is reported to have the disease within and outside Zambia. H e s a i d t h e r e i s n e e d to distinguish between an investigated case and a confirmed case. “When we investigate an alert, it doesn’t mean there is a confirmed case,” Dr Chilufya said. The minister was responding to Choma Central MP Cornelius Mweetwa (UPND) who wanted to know if reports that an Indian of Choma who travelled recently has the virus. The minister also said government will not ban those who want to travel to and from China because it is discriminatory.
He said China is not the only country affected by the virus. The minister was responding to Monze Central MP Jack Mwiimbu, who wanted to know if Government will consider banning movements between Zambia and China. Dr Chilufya said random checks are being done by the Ministry of Health to enhance safety of everyone.
Earlier, in a ministerial statement, he said Government has set aside a K50 million contingency fund to strengthen the activities of preparedness, prevention and response outlined in the Multi-sectorial Contingency Public Health Emergency Plan. He urged the public to observe hygiene to prevent chances of contracting the virus, which has no known cure. The minister called for unity of purpose in handling the outbreak of the coronavirus, which he said should not be politicised.
Dr Chilufya said Government is in the process of signing a statutory instrument to quarantine those suspected of having the disease. Over 3,000 people have died of the virus, which was first reported in China in December last year. And 46,000 enumerators will be engaged by Government during the census which will be conducted between August and September this year. M i n i s t e r o f N a t i o n a l Development Planning Alexander Chiteme told Parliament that the cost of engaging the enumerators is part of the K758 million budget approved for the 2020 census on housing and population. He said this in a ministerial statement yesterday.
Mr Chiteme said 1,500 map data collectors have already been engaged for the mapping exercise and deployed in respective districts. “During this year’s census, the map data collectors will record the response from each household using an electronic designated form on a computer gadget – tablet,” Mr Chiteme said. Mr Chiteme said the mapping and listing exercise was conducted in Lusaka last year. The exercise is currently underway in five other provinces.