Zambian President gives his State of the Nation address on Covid-19

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His Excellency, Dr Edgar Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia has given his executive statement and orders on the COVID 19 Pandemic on Wednesday, 25th March 2020.

The president started by reminding the Zambian people that the world is facing one of its greatest adversaries that threatens mankind. The coronavirus disease.

“This virus is mean, devastating and morbid. A few weeks ago, it was heard from a distance in china; today it is in the neighborhood. Today, you and I are not safe anymore and until we comply with what the health authorities are saying, it may spread quickly and endanger our lives.”, said the President.

President Lungu noted that Zambia is landlocked; and that means, with a crisis of this magnitude, they will find themselves under forced lockdown if all their neighbors close their borders. He noted out that this situation would make them economically vulnerable and weaker.

In coming up with measures to stem the spread of Covid-19, the president said that his government has devised a phased strategy that will take into consideration interventions for the low and high-income groups, low and high-density areas, rural and urban areas. It is with this in mind that essential businesses dealing in goods and services will be kept running.

“I have gone around the city and I have seen for myself that many among us are not taking this Covid-19 seriously. I have seen multitudes patronizing bars or freely, hugging and shaking hands at funerals, contrary to health advice.”, insisted the President.

The president assured the Zambian people that it is the duty of my government to ensure every Zambian is protected from this disease. He assured them that his government has been taking proactive measures even before the current cases were identified and pronounced. He had gone ahead and directed that schools, colleges, and universities be closed prematurely to protect pupils and students; teachers and lecturers.

Exactly nine days after the first two Covid-19 cases were announced, ten more cases have now been identified bringing the number to twelve. Eleven of them had traveled abroad in recent weeks and acquired the disease from outside the country. One had come into contact with them locally, and they have all been quarantined.

you are all aware that, my cabinet has already approved the Covid-19 contingency plan, including its budget and directed the ministry of finance to mobilize resources to enable line ministries, private sector and other key stakeholders to contain and combat the spread of the coronavirus disease in a multisectoral and coordinated manner.”, noted the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces.

The President then announced the measures the government has started undertaking and will continue to undertake in phase one to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

He said that the Zambian missions abroad and department of immigration must be alert to review the issuance of visas for people wanting to travel to Zambia, as well as at all ports of entry into the country for all travelers from countries affected by Covid-19;

 Travelers will be allowed entry into Zambia, however, upon screening those who exhibit symptoms they will be quarantined in a medical facility for treatment, while all other travelers without symptoms will be quarantined for at least 14 days at their own cost;

President Lungu went ahead and insisted that the government has suspended non-essential foreign travel, particularly, to countries which have confirmed Covid-19 cases;

Public gatherings such as conferences, weddings, funerals, festivals are to be restricted to at least 50 people subject to them complying with public health authority guidelines;

Restaurants must operate only on a take-away and delivery basis, all bars, night clubs, cinemas, gyms, and casinos must close.

All international flights to and from harry mwaanga nkumbula, Simon mwansa kapwepwe and mfuwe international airports are suspended, instead, all international flights should land at and depart from Kenneth Kaunda international airport only, to ensure efficient and effective screening of travelers, as well as following them up by our health authorities;

He reminded that the Zambians must realize that the measures he has just announced shall be effected from midnight on Thursday 26th March 2020 and shall be observed for the initial period of 14 days. However, the government shall constantly review these measures depending on how the pandemic evolves.

“I will at an opportune time provide further update and guidance on the coronavirus disease and the government’s continued response. In the meantime, the council of ministers on disaster management shall be providing regular updates periodically.”, said Lungu.

The President noted that there will be a significant negative socio-economic impact on our communities and the country at large. Therefore, all these measures are critical to ensuring that we avert an imminent socio-economic and health crisis.

President Lungu said, “Let me take this opportunity to thank the donor community, business houses, NGOs, traditional leaders, the church and citizens for actively supporting and working with the government in addressing and mitigating this pandemic at various levels.”

He reminded the public that they are at war, a public health war against Covid-19 where everyone must stand up and be counted and insisted that the health guidelines of frequently washing hands, sanitizing, cleaning the environment, not shaking hands and observing social distance from each other are key to survival.

President Lungu noted out that this fight cannot be won without community participation. He asked the public to be each other’s brother and sisters keeper and encourage one another to seek medical attention whenever one feels unwell and exhibits flu-like symptoms.

“I have no doubt that, together, we shall fight and conquer the coronavirus disease in Zambia. I thank you and God bless you all.”, concluded the President.

It should be remembered that Zambia still has 12 cases of Covid-19.

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