Zambia grapples with shortage of COVID-19 tests kits as cases surge


Zambian Vice President Mutale Nalumango (L) is seen with a facemask on June 25, 2021. (Creative Commons Chaloni Zambia)

Health authorities in Zambia on Monday said the country was facing a challenge of availability of diagnostic tests kits for COVID-19 following a surge in cases driven by the Omicron variant.

“This is due to supply challenges due to the pandemic itself where we see increased global demand for the test and other supplies required for response,” the Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo told reporters during a COVID-19 update press briefing.

She said the situation has further been worsened by the country’s limited resource envelope, adding that widespread community transmission occurring in nearly all districts has led to an increased demand for testing.

According to her, the fourth wave has been characterized by the highest number of new infections ever recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in the southern African nation in March 2020.

The government has since revised the testing criteria following the increased community transmission with priority given to people with severe symptoms, healthcare workers and people admitted to health facilities with various ailments, said the official, explaining this was a logical approach because one in every three Zambians was infected and the country had no capacity to conduct mass testing.

Zambia has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in the past month following the advent of the fourth wave mainly driven by the Omicron variant.

The country’s cumulative cases of COVID-19 now stand at 284,389 following 1,485 new cases reported in the past 24 hours. The new cases were picked from 5,389 sample tests done, representing a positivity rate of 28 percent.

On the other hand, the country discharged 3,389 patients during the same period, bringing the total recoveries to 255,320, while five people died, bringing the total deaths to 3,817.

The country’s cumulative active cases stand at 25,252, with 272 admitted in various isolation facilities, while 24,980 are placed under community management.

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