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Zambia Coronavirus Update | Coronavirus-COVID-19 Updates in Zambia

If you’re entering Zambia, you are required to undergo mandatory testing and quarantine for at least 14 days in a designated institution or facility at your own cost. You won’t be allowed to leave Zambia until the mandatory quarantine period has been completed. Face masks must be worn in public. There are reports that land borders are being closed to non-essential traffic, with little or no notice.

Republic of Zambia

Ministry of Health

 Health Alert for Travellers Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID19)

What is Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19)?

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus. The virus causes a respiratory illness similar to the common cold and in severe cases leads to Pneumonia, Kidney failure and can result in
  • The virus was identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China in 2019 and has since spread to other

Travellers are at increased risk and can spread the disease to others

  • Travellers from China and other countries where the disease is spreading are at increased risk of getting the
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has placed Zambia among African countries at risk of importing the
  • Travellers from Zambia going to China and other countries are also at risk of getting the disease.

What are the Common Signs and Symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease 2019?

  • Fever, Chest pains, Cough, Difficulty in breathing, Headache, Shortness of breath and Sore

How is the disease spread?

The disease is transmitted from animals to humans. It also spreads from person to person. A person can get the disease through the following ways:-

  • Close contact with a person who has the
  • Contact with air droplets dispersed by an infected person who is coughing and

sneezing.

  • Contact with animals infected with the

How can you protect yourself and others while travelling?

  • Avoid non-essential travel to affected
  • Avoid travelling when you are
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has symptoms of the coronavirus
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus and then touching eyes, mouth or nose

Are you travelling to Zambia from China or other countries affected by the new coronavirus disease? Here is what to expect at the airport and all points of entry

  • The Ministry of Health Port Health Authority in collaboration with the Zambia Department of Immigration is implementing enhanced health screening at airports and all points of entry to identify travellers with fever, cough, or difficulties in

Upon arrival, the travellers will be screened using the following procedure:

  • Details of the traveller including the travel, health and contact information will be
  • Ministry of Health Port health officers will take the temperature of each traveller with a thermal scanner to check for fever. Travellers with fever will be quarantined and examined further to determine whether they should be taken to a designated isolation facility for further medical examination and
  • Health advice will be given to look out for symptoms of the coronavirus and what to do if symptoms develop within 14 days including contact phone numbers for further information and

Follow up of travellers coming from China and other affected countries

  • Travellers from affected countries not showing signs and symptoms of Coronavirus Disease will be home quarantined for 14 days
  • Travellers from affected countries will be followed up at their place of residence

using phone calls and/or physical visitations for a period of 14 days

  • Travellers who are quarantined at home and develop signs and symptoms of the Coronavirus Disease will be taken to the designated isolation facility for further medical examination and

What should I do when I arrive in Zambia?

All travellers from China and other affected countries should take the following steps: –

  • Look out for any signs of Coronavirus Disease within 14
  • If you develop any of the signs and symptoms above, avoid contact with others and immediately seek medical attention at the nearest health
  • Tell the health workers about your travel
  • Do not travel while you are

For more information, contact

 Ministry of Health, Haile Selassie Avenue,

P.O. Box 30205, Lusaka

 Website:        www.moh.gov.zm        | Email:       ps@moh.gov.zm Call Centre: 0974 493553 | 0953 898941 |0964638726 |

Toll-Free:      909

The situation around the world is changing dramatically. Various governments have changed their travel warnings to restrict travel during this time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions in Zambia – updated 11 June 2020: Anyone entering Zambia may be tested for COVID-19, and must spend up to 14 days in self-quarantine – even if the test result is negative. Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and borders remain open. Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned, and most other restrictions have been lifted. Face masks must be worn in public.

COVID-19 is a real threat to Zambia’s tourism sector and there is a high risk that many firms will shut down and disappear, undermining any ultimate economic recovery when international travel resumes.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry. The industry, which currently accounts for close to 10% of global GDP, is expected to contract by 20% to 30% in 2020.

Zambia’s travel and tourism industry, which has shown signs of healthy growth in recent years, would be impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the industry contributed 7% of GDP (USD 1,701 million) and 7.2% of total employment (469 thousand jobs). International visitors spent USD 849 million, representing 10% of Zambia’s total exports.

This blog post synthesises information drawn from structured interviews administered by the International Growth Centre (IGC) in Zambia.

Zambia the “add-on” destination

Zambia is an underdog within the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA). Though Zambia has seen a sustained increase in the number of international visitors recently (Figure 1), it is dwarfed by South Africa and still lags well behind Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana. Direct flights to Zambia from Europe and Asia are limited, making Zambia an “add on” destination for international travellers visiting neighbouring countries like South Africa and Botswana.

Figure 1: International tourism arrivals

Source: Constructed by author using data from WB-WDI

Figure 2: Main sources of arrivals (all purposes)

Source: Adapted from CBI Netherland Report (2018), pg. 10

Figure 2 indicates that Zambia’s top-20 international markets accounted for 84% of arrivals for all purposes in 2016 and that four African markets, namely Tanzania (24%), Zimbabwe (22%), Democratic Republic of Congo (10%) and South Africa (9%), accounted for two-thirds of international arrivals. High value tourism from the UK and US are only 8% of total arrivals. In terms of contribution to GDP (Figure 3), the tourism sub-sector contributes approximately 3% to Zambia’s GDP, below the shares in Botswana and Tanzania.

Figure 3: Contribution of tourism to GDP

Source: Constructed by author using data from UNTWO

Detrimental effects on the economy

Though Zambia has not closed its borders, the number of international visitors has declined sharply. The first three months of 2020 saw a drop of over 14000 international visitors. A snap poll of members of the Eco-Tourism Association of Zambia (ETAZ) suggests that Zambia’s safari tourism and allied sectors such as Airlines and charters would suffer a loss in income of USD100 million in 2020. Out of 257 lodges and camps, 165  have closed down already. Over 7000 jobs are likely to be lost. 165 tourism businesses in Livingstone and Zambia’s protected areas face bankruptcy. ETAZ projects recovery in revenue streams commencing only in 2021.

Environmental conservation would suffer

State resources allocated to conservation have remained low in Zambia. On average, between 2010 and 2018, 0.6% of Zambia’s national budget was allocated to environmental and wildlife conservation. Consequently, conservation activities are heavily funded by donor organisations and safari tourism firms. The loss in income of safari firms would translate into a significant drop in funding for conservation. For example, ETAZ through a contribution from its members injects over USD annually in supporting conservation activities. Similarly, the safari tourism industry in South Luangwa has established and funded a local NGO – Conservation South Luangwa – charged with broad-scale anti-poaching support, and wildlife veterinary work and community development. Since 2003, eco-safari firms in Luangwa contributed USD 10 per bed/night to fund Conservation South Luangwa. The disruptive effect of COVID-19 would likely translate into increased poaching as eco-safari firms lay off workers and cut down funding of conservation activities.

What should Zambia be doing?

  • Tourism: A handicapped Sector before COVID-19

From our structured interviews conducted in April 2020, administrative bottlenecks such as the cumbersome process of obtaining a license and the numerous licenses required to formally operate in the sector have been a major constraint to the growth of the sector. Our interviews revealed that some tourism businesses require up to 58 different licenses. There are cases where a license is needed from both the local council and a central government agency for the same activity. For example, a boat license is needed from both the local council and from the department of Inland Water Ways. This heavy regulation of Zambia’s tourism sector is reflected in its relatively poor ranking in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI). In 2019, Zambia was ranked 113 out of 140 countries.

The Government should engage with the tourism sector in view of addressing some of these longstanding challenges and more recent pressing challenges. The Zambian government should consolidate its licensing process into a one-stop-shop so as to facilitate the entry of new firms into the sector especially after COVID-19.

Learning from previous pandemics

The outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in early 2003 and of the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2013 had profound negative impacts on the global travel and tourism industry. Even though the length of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery of global travel remains uncertain, recovery strategies from previous pandemics such as the aforementioned can help inform Zambia’s responses to COVID-19. Following the Ebola and SARS pandemics, governments were quick to negotiate the opening-up of the border and exert leverage to resume international flights once zero new infections were recorded. Zambia should, however, have a well-calculated strategy as far as re-opening its border is concerned: re-opening the border too early might be counterproductive, particularly if neighbouring countries still have increasing caseload of infections. Developing and implementing best practices at the border would also be important in regaining the trust of international visitors. In the case of Ebola and SARS, governments worked closely with international organisations and businesses to encourage their staff to return. Relaunching media campaigns aimed at tourists and the broader business community was also vital, in rebranding and improving the image of these countries.

Given that 70% of tourists visit Zambia via land border crossing points, it will be very important for Zambia to collaborate with its neighbours with the view of ensuring that border crossing points are open once the pandemic is contained, and the risk of importing infections is eliminated through appropriate quarantine measures. Salvaging the sector would require Zambia to ensure that it effectively restores its reputation as a safe destination for tourists, both from within the region and from other continents.

Labour regulations during COVID-19

In the current crisis, many employers in the private sector argue that the new employment code enacted on the 10th of May 2019, and which was due to come into force on the 10th of May 2020, inhibits the creation of jobs. There’s a substantial degree of seasonality in Zambia’s safari industry with very few visitors during the rainy season (December to April). Consequently, safari firms mostly rely on temporary labour contracted for the dry season when the industry is fully operational. The new employment code would have a particularly deleterious impact on the tourism sector, as it does not take into account the seasonal nature of employment in the safari industry. In the face of a major shock such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the code makes it extremely difficult to negotiate temporary salary and wage reductions, or even send workers on leave with a reduced paycheck.

From our structured interviews, Most firms are drawing down their reserves and coughing up additional contributions from their owners in order to sustain wage bills. These firms are likely to go out of business, compromising Zambia’s ability to recover jobs and income after the pandemic. Saving jobs in the tourism sector would require the Zambian government to relax or waive some of its labour regulations temporarily, and to reconsider the long-term appropriateness of such regulations. In Namibia, the government has temporarily waived some of its labour regulations allowing hard-hit sectors such as tourism to negotiate up to 50% wage reductions.

Conclusion

COVID-19 is a real threat to Zambia’s tourism sector and there is a high risk that many firms will shut down and disappear, undermining any ultimate economic recovery when international travel resumes. Zambia’s neighbours are acting swiftly and boldly to arrest the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and allied sectors. Given limited financial resources, it may be advisable for the policy response in Zambia to focus on effective public health measures at the borders and providing regulatory relief, particularly with regard to flexibility in the application of labour regulations and licensing requirements for firms in the tourism sector. There is an urgency for the Zambian government to engage the sector in view of having a better understanding of some these pressing challenges and determining how best to address them in the short, medium and long term.

President Edgar Lungu announced on Friday, May 8, that the government will ease ongoing confinement measures against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, allowing certain businesses to reopen. Zambia has been placed under a partial lockdown since Friday, March 20. Cinemas, restaurants, and gyms will be allowed to resume operations, and authorities are considering reopening hotels and lodges. However, bars remain closed and it is mandatory to wear face masks in public places. Public gatherings of more than 50 people are banned, and authorities have advised citizens to avoid all nonessential foreign travel. Cross border public passenger services, railway passenger services, and cross border cargo transportation are also suspended, although those carrying essential commodities will be allowed into the country. Students who are sitting for exams will return to class on Monday, June 1.

As of Wednesday, April 29, all tourist visas have been suspended until further notice to curb the spread of the virus. Despite Zambia’s borders officially remaining open, travellers arriving with a tourist visa or applying for one on arrival will be denied entry into the country. Non-tourist visas or permits are subject to approval from the Ministry of Health following a health screening at the port of entry. The announcement follows the indefinite suspension of all international flights to and from Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula (LVI), Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe (NLA), and Mfuwe airport (MFU) on March 26.

As of Friday, May 8, there are 167 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, with four associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

On Wednesday, April 29, the Zambian government announced that all tourist visas have been suspended until further notice in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Despite Zambia’s borders officially remaining open, travellers arriving with a tourist visa or applying for one on arrival will be denied entry into the country. Non-tourist visas or permits are subject to approval from the Ministry of Health following a health screening at the port of entry. The announcement follows the indefinite suspension of all international flights to and from Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula (LVI), Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe (NLA), and Mfuwe Airport (MFU) on March 26.

Additionally, Zambian authorities have asked citizens to avoid all nonessential foreign travel, banned public gatherings of more than 50 people, and closed restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, gyms, and casinos. Cross border public passenger services, railway passenger services, and cross border cargo transportation have also been suspended, although those carrying essential commodities will be allowed into the country.

Previously, the Zambian government closed schools and universities until further notice.

As of Thursday, April 30, there have been 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with three associated deaths. The further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and laboured breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travellers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travellers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

Potentially impacted travellers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travellers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

Zambia is expected to further ease its COVID-19 restrictions as the government aims to put the country’s economy on a path of recovery.

President Edgar Lungu on Thursday announced the reopening of Zambia’s international airports that have remained shut for weeks in efforts to stop the importation of infections.

In a national address, the president said the reopening of international airports was expected to boost foreign tourism which has largely remained dormant since the government imposed the lockdown measures.

He, however, called for heightened surveillance in the airports to ensure the reopening does not pose a health challenge.

President Lungu, however, said bars and night clubs will remain closed while the remaining classes in schools and colleges will reopen once the cold season was over.

“As a government, we have seen that the reopening of examination classes is already giving us vital information which we should take into account as we are considering resumption of the remaining classes as well as colleges and universities,” he said.

The Southern African country has registered 1,497 COVID-19 infections and 18 deaths, according to data from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

President Lungu, however, expressed satisfaction that measures announced in March were yielding positive results in stemming the further spread of the pandemic.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu says he will not authorise the re-opening of bars and nightclubs despite mounting pressure.

Zambia currently has a total of 1,382 positive coronavirus cases out of 45,248 tests conducted. A total of 1,142 people have recovered while 11 have died from the virus.

Mr Lungu ordered the closure of bars and nightclubs two months ago in a bid to fend off rising cases of Covid-19.

He now says that although he has received recommendations for the re-opening of bars and nightclubs from stakeholders, such a decision will be guided by socio-economic and health considerations.

“Yes, the recommendations have been received but we need to be careful because the numbers have not dropped and this is the month that we are told could decide how the pandemic evolves,” Mr Lungu said in a statement issued by his spokesman Isaac Chipampe.

“It is also important to note that it is not just bars and nightclubs, we also need to re-open the airports that were closed as well as various sports.”

Mr Lungu has appealed to owners of bars and nightclubs and their patrons to be patient.

He said Zambia had done well in stemming the spread of the coronavirus and that it would be a disaster to make a decision that would reverse the gains made.

LUSAKA – Zambia reopened its Nakonde border with Tanzania on Friday for cargo after a five-day closure of the transit point for copper and cobalt exports and fuel imports, but people were not allowed to cross, a provincial minister told Reuters.

President Edgar Lungu shut the border on Sunday after the town of Nakonde recorded 76 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, the highest number registered by Africa’s No. 2 copper producer in a day.

“Trucks from both sides have been moving, starting with those destined for Tanzania,” Malozo Sichone, the minister of Zambia’s Muchinga province, said in response to a request for comment.

He added citizens were still barred from crossing the border.

Zambia’s Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the lockdown imposed on Nakonde town was lifted on Thursday and Friday, but restrictions on movement would come back into force on Saturday to allow for mass screening.

Zambia’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 668 on Friday, with 7 deaths, the minister told a media briefing.

Sichone had said on Wednesday that talks were ongoing with Tanzania over the border closure, and an agreement could be reached soon.

A mining industry executive said the border had opened for copper exports from noon (1000 GMT) on Friday. A logistics official said: “We have trucks that have already crossed.”

The minister previously said priority would be given to trucks bringing essential goods such as fuel, medical supplies, and food into Zambia.

COVID-19: Zambia, Tanzania in talks over border closure

Zambia and Tanzania are in talks over public health management amid the coronavirus pandemic, a day after the former shut its joint international border, officials said.

Last Saturday, Zambia recorded as many as 85 virus cases, 76 of which were detected in Nakonde.

Chitalu Chilufya, Zambia’ s health minister, said both the countries were part of the Southern African Development Community, hence bilateral, cross-border collaboration in public health remained vital in addressing COVID-19, Zambia News and Information Services reported.

The period for the temporary closure of the Nakonde border will be determined by how the disease progresses, he added.

“Measures such as deployment of adequate human resource to avoid any disruption to key economic sectors are being put in place,” the minister was quoted as saying.

Speaking at the daily COVID-19 briefing the capital Lusaka on Monday, Chilufya said the government realized the importance of the key border point to the country’s economy, particularly the movement of goods including fuel.

The landlocked southern African country, excluding Nakonde, has not recorded any new virus cases out of the 286 tests conducted in the last 24 hours. Nakonde has been locked down to carry out intensified testing and contact tracing.

Disinfection, screening and testing exercise has begun in the border district, which is now an epicenter, the minister said.

“All samples in Nakonde, Cobberbelt and Northwestern are being validated and will be announced after the process is completed. Nakonde remains the center of attention,” he added.

Authorities in Nakonde have also asked all government personnel to use PPEs for their protection from the virus that has infected more than four million people in 187 countries, and killed over 286,000.

Zambia has registered 267 COVID-19 cases along with nine virus-linked deaths thus far. Tanzania, meanwhile, is ahead with 509 cases and 21 deaths, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Zambia shuts border with Tanzania to curb COVID-19

Zambia on Monday closed its joint border with neighbouring Tanzania after experiencing the highest spike of coronavirus infections last week, local media reported.

“No traffic will be allowed in or out of the district,” the Tanzania-based The Citizen daily quoted Zambia’s Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya as saying, referring to the closure of Nakonde border.

The minister, however, did not specify the duration of the border shut down.

Last Saturday, Zambia recorded as many as 85 COVID-19 cases, 76 of which were recorded in Nakonde.

Some 267 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the African country thus far, along with seven virus-linked deaths and 117 recoveries, according to figures by John Hopkins University.

In Tanzania, meanwhile, 506 cases have been registered with 21 deaths and 183 people having regained health.

After originating in Wuhan, China late last year, the virus has infected over 4.11 million people in 187 countries and regions.

Governments around the world are now easing lockdowns, hoping that it does not lead to the second wave of contagion. The struggle to balance between saving lives and salvaging jobs continues.

Riots broke out in Nakonde (Muchinga province) on Wednesday, May 20, over lockdown measures in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Police reportedly opened fire with live ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowd, injuring one. The Nakonde border post between Zambia and Tanzania was reopened on Friday, May 15, following a four-day closure after a surge in COVID-19 cases in the town.

Further civil unrest is possible in Nakonde over the near term.

Individuals in Nakonde are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and abide by all instructions issued by local authorities.

COL has responded to a request from Zambia’s Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) to build the capacity of TVET educators in online learning. In partnership with the Technical and Vocational Teachers College (TVTC), a cascading train-the-trainers model has been implemented. A small number of TVTC and Ministry staff have been trained by COL and are now teaching facilitators from the country’s 27 public institutes using COL’s Open Educational Resources (OER) for “Facilitating Online Courses”. These facilitators will then train 840 TVET teachers across Zambia in “Flexible Skills Development,” also OER developed by COL.

“The Ministry appreciates this partnership with COL to enable Zambian TVET lecturers to teach remotely as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gabriel Konayuma, MoHE Senior Vocational Education and Training Officer.

COL has been working with TVTC for 10 years building the college’s capacity in the distance and online learning. TVTC now has its own learning management system and trained staff.

“With existing capability and COL’s OER designed to build the range of skills for online learning, both the Ministry and college could quickly scale up capacity building, and position Zambia to be able to continue training more TVET teachers on their own,” said Terry Neal, COL Education Specialist: Technical and Vocational Skills Development.

The Zambian government’s plan to start reopening universities on 1 July has sparked concerns among lecturer unions and students that the move comes too early, and could see COVID-19 spread like wildfire among the student body and academics.

“We are going ahead opening universities by July 1; it will be done in phases and manner based on the preparedness of universities,” Dr Brian Mushimba, the higher education minister, told University World News, adding that the government had given universities a month’s notice of its plans.

“It appears COVID-19 is here for a long time, so we need to embrace the new normal. Our policy on education in this time of COVID-19 is that online learning will continue to be used as an integral part of the learning process for graduating students and those in other years,” he said. “Universities and colleges will adopt virtual graduation tools amid the coronavirus [pandemic] and students who paid tuition fees for [the past] semester [where they] needed a physical presence in the university, will be refunded.”

President Edgar Lungu announced the reopening of physical classes on 1 June, saying classes for graduating students preparing for examinations should be opened first. Classes had been closed under a lockdown starting on 20 March.

Sitali Wamundila, registrar at the University of Zambia (UNZA), disclosed that the institution would ease its lockdown according to guidance from the Ministry of Higher Education. “Graduating students will be the first to commence lessons and write their exams based on an approved calendar. International students and all other students will continue with online learning,” he said in a statement to University World News.

Dr Kelvin Mambwe, general secretary of the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU) in the capital Lusaka, warned that the government and universities needed to be very cautious about lifting the lockdown. “COVID-19 will explode if government ends the lockdown. In fact, at UNZA there is poor sanitation, no water, and social distancing is not possible because we have a lot of students in classes. We have an accommodation crisis: students are squatting because of a lack of bed space at the institution,” he told University World News.

As of 16 June, Zambia had 1,405 cases of COVID-19, with 11 deaths, 252 active cases and 1,142 recoveries, according to the Ministry of Health, and there is no sign of the pandemic ending.

Lawrence Kasonde, president of the students’ union at Copperbelt University (CBU), Kitwe, northern Zambia, said ending the lockdown on 1 July could be too early as proper health measures were not in place. “It is not a right idea for us to open because we can’t ensure social distance. At CBU we have 2,100 bed spaces against over 10,000 students and keeping two students in a small room means it might be difficult to observe social distance,” he said.

Copperbelt University has announced that only registered and final-year students would be admitted from 22 June for full-time learning.

Helen Mukumba, registrar at Copperbelt University, said reopening would follow health guidelines and conditions set by the Ministry of Health. “All students are required to provide their own face masks, ensure social distancing and wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitiser,” she said in a statement.

Dr Aaron Mujajati, a specialist physician at CAREPEAK Specialist Clinic, Lusaka, also raised concerns about lifting the lockdown, saying: “It is not the right time and the situation is not conducive. Cases are fluctuating each day with a possibility of having more cases if measures are not in place. In fact, further testing would record more cases.” He warned that “cases might rise now that the [Southern Hemisphere] country is entering the cold season.”

While the Ministry of Health is authorised to undertake testing, this has been moving slowly due to limited testing kits. This is despite a United States government grant of US$14.5 million to fight COVID-19. In addition, the African Development Bank has committed US$37.5 million, while the World Bank has made available US$57.60 million under its COVID-19 emergency health support. Britain has pledged US$37.5 million, according to Zambia’s Finance Ministry.

Mujajati said that, while Zambia had few cases, there was no “guarantee that cases will not rise, so lockdown should be maintained”.

In the meantime, higher education institutions have been struggling to digitalise learning, with the process being impeded by weak internet services and inconsistent and erratic power supply.

Mambwe of UNZALARU said online learning has been “the only option… to beat time and keep students learning amid COVID-19. We teach online, [and] quizzes are taken online through an online portal,” he told University World News.

UNZALARU is using Google Classroom and Zoom video conferencing for a minimum of one-hour of teaching, whie students receive and submit assignments through Moodle, a course assignment system.

However, Mambwe said students doing research and writing final papers were finding it difficult because access to libraries is limited.

Students have also been hit hard by load-shedding (rolling power cuts). Zambia faces a power deficit of 810 megawatts, causing all sectors to lose electricity supply from time to time. The country’s state power utility company ZESCO has been rationing power to meet growing demand, but this has affected students’ learning as many are unable to access the internet when there is no power.

Attempts to forge partnerships between universities and mobile telephony providers to deliver online learning have had mixed results. The University of Zambia, Mulungushi University and Copperbelt University have partnered with mobile provider MTN Zambia to offer internet learning services, for instance, but this deal has excluded students who are not MTN subscribers.

Kasonde, the CBU student union president, said different mobile service users had struggled. “It’s a 50-50 situation: some universities have the capacity to conduct online learning amidst COVID-19 but it’s not every student who is able to participate. Those in rural areas cannot afford internet and buying data is expensive,” he stressed. “Rolling blackouts have also complicated the situation.”

The lockdown has created financial problems for staff and institutions.

Mambwe, who is a linguistics lecturer at UNZA, said: “Some lecturers at UNZA have not been paid their arrears for two months, and salaries have been delayed. Even if the university opens, no one would be willing to teach in person.”

However, the minister, Mushimba, said the government has been supporting state-owned universities during the lockdown through grants to provide salaries for lecturers and staff: “CBU and UNZA are grant-aided institutions and there have been no problems.” However, he accepted that some teachers in private institutions were “sent on forced unpaid leave” because institutions could not afford salaries due to cash flow problems.

Vincent Bizimana, a lecturer in accounting and business at DMI-St Eugene University, a private institution in Lusaka, said lecturers were receiving all payments, but students were experiencing challenges adjusting to online learning. “Internet is a challenge because students can’t connect. Other students find the buying of phones and computers expensive. This precludes them from learning online,” he told University World News.

After two months in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, students in examination classes re-gather at school on Monday. The schools officially closed in March as part of the government”s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, the students have resumed lessons and preparations for upcoming exams, of course, with face masks as a precaution.

A student at Roma Girls Secondary School, Veronica Nyirenda, said that she was thrilled to resume classes after staying at home for two months. She explained, “I am excited because I missed interactions with my friends”. She said that students were satisfied with all the preparation authorities to have made, including the health guidelines that were enforced.

A headteacher at the school, Namangolwa expressed her gratitude that there were large numbers of returning students, saying, “We have a full house and everything is just okay. The pupils are happy to see each other after a long time”.

A teacher at Ng”ombe PTA School, Bernard Mutambwa, discussed the preparations made to follow health guidelines given by health officials. Many students came with masks, while others had to be denied access to the school for not following the necessary safety procedure. Local media shows that there were large numbers of students being turned away.
The government said that they would provide all students with face masks upon entry.

Pupils in examination classes flocked back to school on Monday after two months of lockdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The schools were closed in March as part of government measures to contain the pandemic.

The pupils, with face masks, returned to begin their lessons in preparation for their examinations.

A Xinhua team that visited some of the schools in Lusaka, the country’s capital, found the pupils in classrooms learning.

Veronica Nyirenda, a student at Roma Girls Secondary School, said she was excited to be back and resume classes after two months of just staying at home.

“I am excited because I missed interactions with my friends,” she said in an interview.

She said the pupils were happy with the preparations done by the school authorities, adding that all the health guidelines have been put in place.

Namangolwa, headteacher at Roma Girls Secondary School expressed happiness that pupils had turned up in large numbers to resume classes.

“We have a full house and everything is just okay. The pupils are happy to see each other after a long time,” she said.

Bernard Mutambwa, headteacher of Ng’ombe PTA School said the school had made preparations in order to abide by the health guidelines as prescribed by health authorities.

He said all the pupils came with face masks except for a few who had to be turned away.

However, there were reports in local media that in some schools, most pupils were turned away because they did not have face masks.

The government had promised to provide face masks to all the pupils before resuming lessons.

The decision by the Zambian government to reopen some examination classes in schools amid the COVID-19 has received mixed reactions from stakeholders.

In March, the government closed schools as part of efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

However, in his national address Friday, President Edgar Lungu said examination classes in both secondary and primary should reopen on June 1 on condition that schools enforce all public health guidelines, regulations and certifications.

He directed the health and education authorities to ensure that face masks, hand washing soaps and sanitizers are prioritized to all schools and health centers, starting with those in examination classes.

People have reacted differently to the announcement, with some welcoming it while others have said the government should have waited a little longer.

“I am excited that my child is going to resume classes. We were really worried when our children stopped attending classes. We commend the president for the gesture,” said Sharon Bwalya, 30-year-old Lusaka resident.

She noted that the announcement was good although she was quick to point out that the health of her children came first.

Charity Zimba, who is the examination class at Olympia High School in Lusaka said she cannot wait for June 1 to come so that she can resume classes. She said she is excited about the prospect of resuming classes after two months of just staying at home.

The National Action for Quality Education in Zambia, a lobby group also welcomed the decision with caution.

Aaron Chansa, the organization’s executive directive said his organization was in support of the decision because it is not clear when the pandemic will end.

He, however, urged the government to distribute masks to all pupils and teachers as well as daily screenings to ensure that the schools were safe.

The Zambia National Union of Teachers described the move as a bold decision.

The union has however called for mandatory testing of pupils and a 14-day mandatory quarantine before they report for lessons.

According to the union, the move, if not well managed, can result in schools becoming epicentres of the pandemic.

Zambia to shut all schools amid COVID-19 fearsZambia’s government decided to shut down all educational institutions later this week amid coronavirus outbreak fears, local media reported Tuesday.

Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya said the decision, which takes effect Friday, is a measure to prevent the global outbreak that has not been recorded in Zambia, the Lusaka Times website reported.

Chilufya said precautions include training more than 500 health care workers to treat the virus known as COVID-19, restrictions on foreign travel, including rescheduling all avoidable travel, setting two to14-day quarantine for travellers coming from “high-risk” nations if symptomatic, as well as health screenings at all entry points to the country, according to the website.

The deadly virus has hit 27 African nations.

The virus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to nearly 150 countries and territories. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

Out of 189,233 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 7,500, while more than 80,000 patients have recovered, according to Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers.

REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA MINISTRY OF HEALTH

 PRESS BRIEFING ON COVID-19 AND ADDITIONAL PREVENTIVE AND CONTROL MEASURES

Tuesday, 17 March 2020. Lusaka.

 Members of the Press, countrymen and women, ladies and gentlemen;

Thank you for spending your precious time to come and get updated on a disease of international public health concern, the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

The ongoing COVID-19 global outbreak has now spread to at least 162 countries and territories around the world. In addition, one international conveyance, the Diamond Princess, a Japanese cruise ship was affected. The risk of virus spread continues to be Very High globally.

As of today 17th, March 2020 06:00 AM SAT, 181,335 cases and 7,130 deaths have been recorded globally; with a daily increase of over 10,000. Of recent concern to us is the rate of spread in Africa. Since the first case in February 2020, the numbers have escalated to 322 cases and 10 deaths, according to reports by 17th March 2020 06:00 AM SAT.

Zambia has not yet confirmed any case of COVID-19 but continues to pitch very high, public health security for the country. The Government of the Republic of Zambia under the leadership of His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu has escalated the level of preparedness and put in place intense measures to respond to any event of coronavirus disease:

  1. The screening process coordinated by our disease intelligence wing, the Zambia national Public health Institute at points of entry is mandatory and more

In line with the Public Health Act Cap. 295 of the Laws of Zambia, and guided by the two Statutory Instruments, SI 21 of 2020 which designates COVID-19 as a notifiable disease and SI 22 of 2020 which provides additional regulations to facilitate management and control of COVID-19 both issued on March 14th of 2020, mandatory screening and quarantine of international travellers including air travel passengers, truckers, bus operators, and passengers at points of entry, bus stations and other checkpoints from high-risk areas for a minimum period of 14 days shall be issued.

  1. A restriction has been imposed on all foreign travel, with the public being advised to reschedule all avoidable travel. Hygiene practices to promote infection prevention in all passenger vehicles, aeroplanes, marine transport, and other conveyances, and points of entry such as airports, harbours, railway stations and ground crossings is
  2. For persons who may have already entered the country but were advised to self-quarantine as were not displaying symptoms at the time, it is mandatory to report of all individuals suspected to have COVID-19 to health officials; this applies even to those who may not have travelled but are displaying symptoms of the disease which include fever
  3. We are restricting public mass gathering and social distancing mandated to prevent infections. Organisations within country have been requested to reschedule public events or use technology to advance their

We are engaging the Ministries of Education and Higher Education to consider bringing forward closing dates.

  1. Personal and environmental hygiene is key in prevention of COVID-19; in this regard all public places including shopping malls, markets and other trading places, restaurants, bars, bus stations, places of worship, schools, offices, and other congregate settings are mandated to ensure cleaning of surroundings and proper management of

Further, the public places MUST provide adequate and accessible facilities for hand hygiene and sanitation, failure to which they risk being closed.

  1. The Ministry of Health is engaging various community leaders including the religious and traditional leaders to promote community sensitisation and health
  1. A multisectoral approach to implementing prevention practices and managing a response are in Place. Following the setup of an Emergency Response Fund with K57 million from Government treasury, many stakeholders have come on board to support the activities of the COVID-10 contingency emergency

Members of the Press, ladies and gentlemen, countrymen and women,

I note with concern a lot of misinformation on the COVID-19; this has exacerbated fear and stigmatisation leaving the unknowledgeable, unprotected and vulnerable. Allow me to emphasise that knowing the facts is key to being properly prepared and protecting yourself and your loved ones.

I implore you to take advantage of official information to guide your actions. A Call Centre has been established for the public to report concerns and also receive information on the disease. Dedicated Call Centre numbers are 909 (toll-free), 0953898941, 0964638726 and 0974493553.

Countrymen and women,

I wish to reiterate and emphasise that we all need to exercise high levels of hygiene and comply with these measures which are aimed at safeguarding the health of the Zambian public. Health inspectors and authorized officers shall from time-to- time visit public premises to ensure compliance and enforce these regulations.

Failure to comply with the regulations shall constitute an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to penalties stipulated in the regulations.

God Bless Zambia. I thank you.

Hon. Dr Chitalu Chilufya MP,MCC

Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, MP, MCC MINISTER OF HEALTH

14th March 2020

Ladies and Gentlemen; Countrymen and women; Members of the Press.

Today I wish to update the nation on the ongoing Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and measures the Government of the Republic of Zambia is upscaling to enhance our preparedness, surveillance and response to this threat.

As you may be aware, COVID-19 was first reported on 31st December 2019 in Wuhan City of Hubei Province in China. On 30th January 2020, the outbreak was declared a Global Public Health Emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). Following wide and continued spread of the virus around the world, the outbreak has in the last few days been upgraded to pandemic status. However, the WHO still implores countries to step up efforts for containing the spread of the virus by implementing strong measures to support early disease detection, isolation and supportive treatment of cases, contact tracing and interruption of disease transmission. The risk of COVID- 19 spread has been determined to be Very High globally. Key symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sneezing, difficulties in breathing, body weakness, sore throat, and headache.

As at 13th March, 2020 confirmed cases globally were 134,787 including 4,984 deaths. Cumulative cases in China alone stand at 80,814. However, there has been a marked slowdown in new cases in China over the past week, while in other countries cases continue to rise sharply. Notably, the number of cases has been increasing rapidly in Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, France, Germany, the USA and several European countries.

Within Africa 156 cases including 3 deaths have been reported in 15 countries from all subregions.

Zambia has not recorded any case of COVID-19. However, our disease intelligence arm, the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI), has been conducting surveillance and to date 28 alerts involving individuals who travelled from areas with confirmed COVID- 19 cases have been investigated. Beyond these, more than 29,000 passengers have been screened at our international airports in the past one month. Of these, 2,300 travellers arriving from high-risk areas have been identified and are being tracked for 14 days.

The Government through the Ministry of Health, with support from Cooperating Partners, has been implementing the following interventions:

  1. The National Public Health Emergency Operations Center (PHEOC) located at the ZNPHI is activated and is using a multisectoral Incident Management System (IMS) approach to coordinate preparedness, surveillance and response efforts at a technical level.
  2. Active surveillance is ongoing at points of entry and in healthcare facilities. All international passengers are being screened and those from high-risk countries followed up for 14 days.
  3. Isolation facilities to safely manage cases and limit the spread of the disease have been designated at district level across the country.
  4. Laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19 has been established at the University Teaching Hospital Virology Laboratory and at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia.
  5. Infection prevention and control measures are being strengthened, with the procurement of disinfectants and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves, face masks, aprons and hand hygiene supplies.
  6.  Community engagement through radio, TV, and social media platforms, and distribution of Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials is ongoing. Parliamentarians have also been engaged to facilitate and promote community awareness in their constituencies.
  1. A Call Centre has been established for the public to report concerns and also receive information on the disease. Dedicated Call Centre numbers are 909 (toll-free), 0953898941, 0964638726 and 0974493553.
  2. Specialized training for key healthcare workers and surge staff including immigration, customs, defence, security and point of entry personnel is being rolled out countrywide. Guidelines for various aspects of preparedness and response have been developed and distributed to health facilities, including the private sector.
  3. The Government of the Republic of Zambia has established an Emergency Fund to provide resources for COVID-19 preparedness, surveillance and response.

Countrymen and Women,

I now wish to draw your attention to additional prevention and control measures the Government has introduced to enhance our preparedness, surveillance and response to the imminent threat of COVID-19.

In line with the Public Health Act Cap. 295 of the Laws of Zambia, I have signed and brought into force two Statutory Instruments which: (1) designate COVID-19 as a notifiable disease, and (2) provide additional regulations to facilitate management and control of COVID-19.

Key measures brought into force with immediate effect include:

  • Mandatory reporting of all individuals suspected to have COVID- 19 to health officials.
  • Mandatory quarantine of all travellers from high-risk areas for a minimum period of 14 days.
  • Mandatory isolation of all suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • Mandatory collection of all relevant specimens for diagnosis and management of COVID-19.
  • Closure of any premises that pose a public health threat linked to COVID-19.
  • A mandatory requirement for the provision of adequate and accessible facilities for hand hygiene at all public places including shopping malls, markets and other trading places, restaurants, bars, bus stations, places of worship, schools, offices, and other congregate settings. Hand hygiene facilities should include soap and running water, or alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
  • A requirement for all public places including schools and training institutions, shopping malls, markets, trading places, restaurants, bars, bus stations, places of worship, and other congregate settings to adhere to and practice high levels of hygiene standards, including ensuring the provision of adequate water and sanitation facilities.
  • School authorities, leaders of religious institutions, employers and community leaders are required to disseminate information on health practices, including for the prevention of COVID-19, to their constituents.
  • Restriction of close personal contacts such as handshakes and hugs, particularly in congregate settings such as schools, offices, places of worship, and others.
  • The social distancing of at least one meter is encouraged when an individual is showing respiratory symptoms such as cough and/or sneezing. Individuals showing such symptoms are urged to stay at home and avoid interacting with the public.
  • Restriction of unnecessary public gatherings.
  • Restrictionofnon-essential-foreign travel.
  • Mandatory cleaning of surroundings and proper management of waste within communities, trading places, and other public places.
  • Mandatory screening of international travellers including truckers, bus operators, and passengers at points of entry, bus stations and other check points that may be set up from time to time.
  • Authorities at all points of entry, including airports, harbours, railway stations and ground crossings are required to put in place all necessary provisions to promote hygiene and facilitate infection prevention and control during passenger transit and transfer.
  • Operators of passenger vehicles, aeroplanes, marine transport, and other conveyances are required to put in place all necessary provisions to promote hygiene and facilitate infection prevention and control during operations. This includes provision of health information on COVID-19 and other health matters. In addition, transport operators are required to submit all relevant information and documentation that may be useful in detection and management of COVID-19.

Countrymen and women,

I wish to appeal to all citizens to exercise high levels of hygiene and comply with these measures which are aimed at safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the Zambian public. Health inspectors and authorized officers shall from time-to-time visit public premises to ensure compliance and enforce these regulations.

Failure to comply with the regulations shall constitute an offence and individuals shall be liable, upon conviction, to penalties stipulated in the regulations.

God Bless Zambia. I thank you.

Republic of Zambia

Ministry of Health

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

FACT SHEET

What is Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus 2019. The virus causes a respiratory illness similar to the common cold and in severe cases leads to pneumonia, kidney failure and can result in death. The virus was identified in China in 2019 and has since spread to other countries.

Common Signs and Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Chest pains
  • Cough
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat

How it is spread

The disease is transmitted from animals to humans and also spreads from person to person. A person can get the disease through:

  • Close contact with a person who has the disease
  • Contact with animals infected with the virus
  • Touching an object or surface contaminated with a virus and then touching the eye, mouth or nose
  • Air droplets dispersed by coughing and sneezing
  • Eating contaminated meat and meat products

Who is at risk of contracting the Coronavirus Disease 2019?

Everyone is at risk of getting the virus; however, others are more at risk particularly;

  • Anybody in close contact with a person infected with the virus
  • Health care workers
  • Travellers to areas affected by the disease
  • Airline workers and those working at border posts
  • Chronically ill and elderly persons
  • Persons handling the Infected or contaminated meat and meat products

Prevention Measures

Considering the severity and geographic spread of COVID-19, it is important to take the

following preventive measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of Coronavirus
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When coughing or sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue paper
  • Cook all your meat and meat products thoroughly before
  • Avoid unprotected contact with live wild or domesticated animals
  • Avoid spitting in public
  • Health Care Workers must practice standard Infection Prevention measures
  • Avoid travel when you are not feeling well
  • Avoid non-essential travel to areas where there is the transmission of the
  • Avoid eating meat from animals that have died

Is there treatment available for coronavirus disease 2019?

There is no specific treatment for coronavirus disease in 2019.

However, People showing signs and symptoms of the disease should immediately seek medical care from the nearest Health Facility.

Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). The best way to prevent infection is to follow the recommended prevention measures

What should you do if you suspect that you, a member of your family or

Does anybody have the coronavirus disease?

If you suspect the signs and symptoms of coronavirus disease, seek medical care immediately at the nearest health facility.

For more information, contact the call centre on the numbers indicated below.

Ministry of Health, Haile Selassie Avenue,

P.O. Box 30205, Lusaka Email:               ps@moh.gov.zm

Website:         www.moh.gov.zm

Call Centre: 0974 493553 | 0953 898941 | 0964 638726

TOLL FREE LINE: 909

Zambia is currently in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of 23 April, Ministry of Health statistics confirmed 76 cases and three deaths. Currently, the cases are concentrated in and around the capital, Lusaka, although it has also begun to spread to other parts of the country, such as Kabwe. It looks likely that the peak may be in May or June, which is a cause for concern, as people are more vulnerable during Zambia’s cold season in June and July.

The response is being led by the Ministry of Health, advised by experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with daily briefings to the public and frequent updates through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. This provides a level of transparency towards the public: information is widespread and there is an increasing sense of urgency as the virus spreads. This approach aligns with Zambia’s previous experiences with health-related outbreaks, such as cholera, the threat of ebola, HIV and AIDS, which have always been led by the scientific community through local organisations in cooperation with international partners.

But, internally, the government is divided about the response. Some want a lockdown, while others feel that Zambia cannot afford these restrictions, as there is no money to distribute food or support small businesses and the self-employed. So far, a temporary lockdown has been imposed in individual towns such as Kafue, in order to carry out tracing and testing. At the national level, schools and universities were closed in March, as well as bars and restaurants. Only a limited number of people are allowed to attend funerals, weddings and churches. Civil servants go to work, but are on a rotation schedule so as to limit the number of people in the offices. Many companies and organisations have also adopted this approach.

Two statutory instruments (SIs) have been issued in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first, SI No. 21 of 2020, declared the Coronavirus Disease 2019 as a notifiable infectious disease in line with Section 9 of the Public Health Act. The second, SI No. 22 of 2020, set out measures aimed at controlling the spread of Covid-19. This includes mandatory quarantine measures for patients and those suspected of suffering from Covid-19. However, other measures, such as restrictions on the movement of people, the mandatory wearing of face masks, and the prohibition of gatherings of more than 50 people, are not backed up by any legal instrument. There have been separate calls from a constitutional lawyer, John Sangwa, and a local NGO, the Chapter One Foundation, to declare a state of emergency or state of disaster, and to issue further legislation to ensure that the rule of law and human rights are upheld. However, these proposals have been ignored, leading to concerns about illegal enforcement and abuse of power.

So far, there has been a mostly positive reaction from the public towards the government’s actions, although there was some discontent about foreigners being allowed to enter the country without enforced quarantine, which was seen as a high risk to the Zambian population (this has now been changed to mandatory quarantine of 14 days for anyone entering Zambia, including returning residents). However, enforcement of regulations and restrictions is not easy, due to limited state capacity. Already there have been some incidents of violence as social distancing is enforced, with the involvement of the Zambia Police sparking criticism from stakeholders, including the Human Rights Commission. The situation is therefore likely to create unrest as it develops within the context of a perfect storm: high food prices, increased unemployment, political tensions, low copper prices, (temporary) closure of mines, debt crisis and the lack of fiscal space.

ESID research on Zambia has shown that, under the current political settlement, the country is hindered in its response to the pandemic: while the government seems to be listening to medical advice, politics often overrules formal institutions and technocratic advice. So far, there has been a lack of political leadership – President Edgar Lungu has only appeared twice since the outbreak in pre-recorded sessions. There is a strong sense that the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party’s focus remains on 2021 elections, with Lungu already declared as the PF presidential candidate, despite controversy regarding his eligibility to run for a third term.

Money has been made readily available for political purposes, such as by-elections, without similar commitments to setting aside money to address Covid-19, where the government seems to be relying on ‘well-wishers’ and partners. Also, some of the masks to be handed out to the public are going to be branded PF, a move that has been defended by government spokesperson and Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Dora Siliya. This instrumental deployment of political survival strategies means that Zambia may miss the opportunity generated by its particular type of political settlement to engineer a more coherent and legitimate response.

However, the Covid-19 crisis does seem to have opened up some space for more technocratic actors and viewpoints to come to the fore of policy discussions, something that has been difficult in the context of two-decade-long heightened inter-elite rivalries in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa.  Some ministers have equally been taking a prominent role in their respective fields. This includes Dr Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health, who has been leading the medical response, Stephen Kampyongo, Minister of Home Affairs, who has been uncharacteristically critical of the use of violence to enforce the restrictions, and Dr Bwalya Ng’andu, Minister of Finance, who has been working on mitigating the economic costs of Covid-19.

Importantly, there has been a more public discussion of Zambia’s financial crisis, an issue that has been downplayed by politicians and around which technocrats are usually sidelined. On 20 April, the Minister of Finance, Governor of the Bank of Zambia, Secretary to the Treasurer and the Commissioner-General of the Zambia Revenue Authority gave a press conference referencing economic challenges and Zambia’s request for IMF support at the end of 2019, which would usually be taboo subjects in public statements. A few days ago, the G20 announced a package of measures as part of an action plan to tackle the coronavirus globally; however, as a middle-income country, Zambia does not qualify for support under the IMF’s Catastrophic Containment and Relief Trust. Minister Ng’andu announced Zambia is in bilateral discussions regarding possible suspension of debt service payments, but any rescheduling of debt payments would need to be under stringent conditions, as there is little trust in the government to handle funds, due to high levels of corruption that continue to be reported by the Auditor General Office and the Financial Intelligence Centre.

The effects of the pandemic and of the measures to reduce transmission of Covid-19 will hit the poorest hardest. Amid calls for social protection to form a key part of mitigation and recovery responses, cash transfers have been widely adopted in response to the crisis. However, Zambia’s social cash transfer programme had reportedly been reduced in scale before the pandemic began, reflecting uneven levels of political commitment to the scheme. With debt servicing costs at almost 50 per cent of domestic revenue and social protection declining from 4 per cent to 2.4 per cent as a share of the total 2020 budget, additional funding seems unlikely under the current circumstances. Restrictions will also severely affect informal traders, who provide the majority of food to the urban poor and are not protected by the social security enjoyed by the formal sector or by poverty-targeted measures like cash transfers. Additionally, health services are underfunded, although, following medical advice, mass recruitment of doctors and nurses are taking place. There is also a continued role for trusted international organisations, including the WHO, Red Cross and CDC.

However, and as a political settlements analysis would predict, these limited efforts to increase service delivery to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 are being combined with increased repression, with the government starting to use the crisis to crack down on critics. This can be understood as part of wider strategies of dominance engaged by the ruling party, including a rise in political repression, identified in a recent ESID working paper.  For example, independent media platforms have been shut down, notably, The Post newspaper in June 2016 and Prime TV on 9 April this year, removing critical voices and intimidating other media outlets. Civil society has also faced repressive interventions but continues to act as an opposition force with resistance to some of the Covid-19 measures coming from the Law Association of Zambia, Chapter One Foundation and the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection. Based on previous successes of Zambia’s civil society as a countervailing power, when opposition parties have been largely absent or suppressed, their efforts are paramount in a context where COVID-related restrictions are being used to undermine democratic freedoms around the world.

This is a rapidly evolving situation with events on the ground changing day by day, making it hard to predict the direction of travel. As Zambia is only at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, it is too early to say whether the response will continue to be driven by health experts and scientists, or whether politicians will attempt to demonstrate their leadership credentials in the face of this crisis.

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