Members of the press,
The COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted the health, education and socio-economic activities of our country. The Government of the Republic of Zambia has been consistent in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic guided by the National Multi-Sectoral Contingency Preparedness and the Response Plan, which is dynamic and scalable. The Government’s approach in responding to COVID-19 has been directed at striking a delicate balance between saving lives, livelihoods, education and the economy.
On 16th July 2021, His Excellency the President, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, through the Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Simon Miti, directed specific heightened interventions to prevent and mitigate the further spread of COVID-19. The Government would like to thank the Zambian people for embracing and supporting the directives which were pronounced then. This response has led to the positive picture we are beginning to see in our country.
Since the first two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the country on 18th March 2020, Zambia has cumulatively recorded 196,490 cases, 188,950 (96%) recoveries and 3,412 deaths as at 1st August 2021. COVID-19 continues to affect all the 116 districts in the country. As stated before, the key drivers of the COVID-19 situation in the country include laxity in adhering to the prescribed public health and social measures, the cold weather and presence of the variants of concern.
We are encouraged that in the last two weeks, as a country, we have made progress in our COVID-19 response recording reductions in positivity, new admissions to hospital and deaths of 41%, 42% and 29% respectively. We are optimistic that the situation will continue to improve as long as we don’t drop the guard at individual, family and community levels.
However, despite the positive situation we have seen, we are deeply concerned that 307 (73%) of those admitted in our hospitals are on oxygen therapy and 116 (25%) are critically ill, a reminder that we should not become complacent in our response. Further our positivity, though reduced over the past two weeks, is not yet below the 5% to indicate that we have fully brought COVID-19 under control.
Members of the Press
Government is committed to ensuring that more COVID 19 vaccines are mobilized for our people. We would like to restate that the COVID 19 vaccination program in Zambia is voluntary and no one should coerce or force another person to get vaccinated.
For us what is critical is emphasizing the benefits of getting vaccinated and then leaving it to individuals and families to make informed decisions. Regarding vaccination against COVID 19 in pregnant women and children, comprehensive guidelines will be issued in due course.
Members of the Press
When the last directives were issued on 16th July 2021, it was made clear that schools would open on 16th August 2021 subject to inspection and certification by Ministries of General Education, Health and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit and depending on the evolution of the pandemic. These assessments and certifications coupled with the current COVID-19 situation in the country have provided critical information to guide the way forward in terms of opening of schools.
To this effect, His Excellency the President, through the Secretary to the Cabinet, has directed the following interventions:
1. Boarding schools for Grades 9,10,11 and 12 and Day secondary schools for Grades 9,11 and 12 and Primary schools for Grade 7s will open by Thursday 5th August, 2021. The situation will closely be monitored and may be revisited depending on the evolution of the pandemic.
• The decision to open these classes will enable exam classes to adequately prepare for their final examinations. It may be recalled that these classes were last year out of school for 7 months when the pandemic first broke out and further extension of the closure of these classes would be disastrous for the nation. Further, there is urgent need to catch up on the lost hours of work in order to cover up the national syllabus to which primary and secondary schools are subjected during national examinations. If closure of schools was extended, it will be more difficult to manage the transition.
• All School head teachers are, therefore, directed to provide leadership so that the situation in the schools that shall open, will help Government to make decisions on the remaining Grades.
• Ministry of General Education is directed to provide detailed operative guidance to the public to ensure smooth implementation of the directive.
• The opening of the remaining classes will be based on the inspections and certification by the Ministries of General Education and Health in conjunction with the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) and depending on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
2. Government applauds the Universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning for embracing technology and ensuring continuity in learning this far. Universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning will continue with on-line classes for the next 21 days.
3. Churches and other places of worship to only conduct two by one hour services per week.
4. Restaurants to continue operating only on a take-away basis for the next 21 days.
5. Bars and taverns will continue operating only on a take-away basis for the next 21 days.
6. Casinos and night clubs to remain closed for the next 21 days
7. Gymnasiums to remain closed for the next 21 days except for outdoor activities with strict adherence to the COVID-19 health guidelines.
8. Kitchen Parties, wedding parties, Chilanga mulilos, and matebetos remain suspended.
9. Funerals to only have 50 mourners while adhering to the Five Golden Rules.
10. Authorities in Public Places and transport operators must ensure masking up and physical distancing are always observed. Bus and train stations managements to ensure full adherence to the Five (5) Golden Rules.
11. All Markets to ensure adherence to the public health guidelines and the Five (5) Golden Rules.
12. All physical conferences, workshops and general meetings remain suspended until further notice.
Government is aware that these directives have negatively affected the livelihoods of our people, and commiserates with the people so negatively affected. However, we would like to stress that these measures are meant to protect the lives of our people, and not to punish in any way. Government has had to delicately balance between saving lives, education of our children and the economy. It’s also on that basis that no total lockdown has ever been implemented in the country since COVID-19 was confirmed 16 months ago.
His Excellency the President is urging members of the Public to once again show solidarity and comply with these interventions. Further, His Excellency the President has directed the multi-sectoral teams to enhance monitoring and enforcement of compliance so that the country can return to normalcy sooner than later.
I thank you.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services
Permanent Secretary – Administration
Office of the Vice President
Dr Jobbix Kalumba
Permanent Secretary – Technical Services
Ministry of General Education
Dr Kennedy Malama
Permanent Secretary – Technical Services
Ministry of Health