President Edgar Lungu has directed that primary and secondary school examination classes should open their doors to learners effective June 1, 2020, provided that the schools enforce the stipulated health guidelines, regulations and certification.
In his fourth state of the nation address, the president said he is worried that if schools remain closed there would be a possibility of an upsurge in the moral decay of children and youths due to them having more free time on their hands.
I am worried about our children who are tired and bored of staying at home all day and we are seeing instances of juvenile delinquency increasing in some cases. I am aware that if schools, colleges and Universities remain closed, we shall have an education crisis as their calendars would be terribly affected,he said.
He said the Ministry of Health and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit should ensure that face masks, hand washing soaps and sanitizers are prioritized and provided to all schools and health centers for use by learners.
Dr Lungu has also reopened restaurants, cinemas, gymnasiums and casinos in line with the ‘’new normal of living,’’ while adhering to prescribed public health guidelines.
He has further directed Ministry of General and Higher Education to engage and consult various stakeholders on the possibility and modalities of opening non-examination classes, colleges and universities in the ‘’near future.’’
He has also directed the Ministry of Finance to ensure that modalities are urgently communicated and the collateral demanded from the intended beneficiaries of the K10, 000, 000, 000 Contingency plan under the Bank of Zambia.
In my previous address, I announced the creation of Covid-19 Economic Recovery Fund and directed the Ministry of Finance and other relevant ministries to consolidate resources to be disbursed to small and medium businesses, women groups, the youth and the most vulnerable that have been the hardest hit. So far I am aware that the modalities of disbursement of the ten billion Kwacha have not been adequately communicated to the would-be beneficiaries,’Dr Lungu said.
He appealed to proprietors of hotels, lodges, tour operations, internet cafes and event management companies that were voluntarily closed as a result of the covid-19 to consider the possibility of getting back to normal operations.
Dr Lungu said people should embrace the new normal of living with covid-19 just like they have with other diseases such as malaria, HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis, provided they adhere to the prescribed health guidelines and regulations.
In embracing the new normal- living with Covid-19, let us continue to vigorously fight this disease and not become complacent. The complexity of Covid-19 really calls for our Zambian Scientists to get working and answer the many questions surrounding coronavirus,he said.
He disclosed that the country had recorded 14 positive cases out of the 683 tests conducted in the last 24 hours bringing the cumulative total to 167 positive cases with the death toll standing at four.
Of the 14 new victims, six are truck drivers that tested in Chirundu, two health workers in Lusaka and Kabwe and one from routine screening at Ndola Central Hospital.
So far the country has carried out 11,352 tests since the first outbreak representing a percentage of 1.5 of those tested and 109 recoveries have been recorded from the 167 positive cases.
He said as the country continues to fight the novel corona virus, government will continue to invest in maternal, child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS and other communicable and non- communicable diseases.
The head of state added that the pandemic provides an opportunity for the country to start its socio and economic recovery trajectory towards making it more resilient as people begin to live with new normal and strengthen the provisions of essential services.
He expressed his gratitude to the front line workers and reiterated his earlier directive to the Ministry of Health to ensure necessary occupational health and safety measures are strengthened in a bid to protect the health workers.
He thanked cooperating partners, civil society organizations, private sector, individuals and the media who have continued to support government in the fight against the pandemic.
Dr Lungu urged provincial ministers to continue providing leadership and oversight in coordinating multi-sectoral stakeholders in their respective jurisdictions.
He emphasized the need for citizens to observe social distancing, wearing of masks and washing hands regularly as the country moves towards the new normal of living.