Zambia has today recorded its first death from the coronavirus, 15 days after the first laboratory confirmed cases were reported in the country.

The number of laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen from 36 to 39 in the last 24 hours.

Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya revealed during the COVID-19 update for today that the patient died in the early hours of today in Lusaka.

Dr. Chilufya said the deceased had an underlying chronic respiratory disorder and a history of having travelled to a COVID-19 high risk country.

“The deceased patient stayed in our facility for six days during which he received advanced treatment and support,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chilufya disclosed that his Ministry carried out a total of 160 tests in the last 24 hours out of which three people tested positive to coronavirus.   

The three confirmed cases were secondary contacts to two separate COVID-19 patients and have since been referred to isolation facilities.

The Minister said the new cases were evidence that local person to person transmission is occurring within communities.

He has reminded all citizens to strictly practice preventive measures adding that government has refined its strategies towards the fight against COVID-19.

Dr. Chilufya disclosed that the Ministry of Health has engaged in training leaders of different demographics such as market associations in order to intensify sensitization and to reach all levels of society.

The Minister of Health has extolled public transporters for getting involved in sensitizing the public about the outlined preventive measures.

He said the public transporters have also reduced the number of passengers on their buses with a view to promote social distancing while travelling.   

And Chief Government Spokesperson, Dora Siliya urged Zambians not to stigmatize COVID-19 patients saying their rights should instead be protected.

Ms. Siliya, who is also Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, implored media practitioners to report ethically about COVID-19 patients.

“We are living in the times of masks, the coronavirus is here and it is real so it very important that we all work together in an effort to defeat the pandemic,” she said.

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