Ministry of Health has dismissed fears of a potential rise in coronavirus cases after the country on Monday hit the 3 045 mark, three months after recording its first cases on April 2 2020.
In the Covid-19 situation update of July 20 2020, Dr John Phuka, co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, said 909 of the 3 045 cases were imported infections while 2 136 were locally transmitted. To date, the pandemic has claimed 64 lives.
The rising cases have since raised anxiety among the public.
It is also feared that with such rising numbers in new infections, there could be more cases that have either not been recorded because of shortage of test kits or succumbed to the pandemic without them or their families knowing, especially for those that live in remote areas.
But in a written response to a questionnaire, Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango dismissed the assertions, arguing that health surveillance assistants (HSAs) are available even in the remotest parts of the country.
He said the HSAs were in regular contact with district health offices for any health-related updates including community deaths.
Nonetheless, Malango also appealed to the public to contact health practitioners early to avoid deaths which are not known to be Covid-19 related or not.
“We are encouraging all symptomatics to call either the 54747 number or the number for the local Director of Health and Social Services or that of the District Environmental Health Officer. It is only by contacting us early that we can avoid people dying before testing,” he advised.
But Malango warned against abuse of the toll-free Covid-19 helpline 54747 number, noting that some people were calling the number casually.
“The toll-free number is overwhelmed with people just casually calling it, trying to see if it works. This puts at risk those who genuinely need the service,” he said.
In a separate interview, health rights activist George Jobe said the reported cases were based on the available data and that the nation was not being misled.
He also argued that if there were indeed some people dying in the communities with full blown signs of Covid-19 then it was a cause for worry for the nation.
Jobe said community structures such as health action groups, village health committees and area development committees for instance, can be empowered to be able to report suspected Covid-19 deaths so that they can be checked.
Regarding the shortage of Covid-19 test kits in the country, Malango also dispelled fears that the shortage might have affected the ministry in testing more people.
He said priority was being given to those in urgent need of testing and that walk-in clients were being discouraged.