The first case of the COVID-19 variant from India has been detected in Zambia, a senior government official said on Tuesday.
Kennedy Malama, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in Charge of Technical Services, said the Indian variant was detected in a man who recently traveled to India.
He said during a COVID-19 update press briefing that the man has since been isolated and was being monitored but added that he was not in a critical condition.
He said surveillance at the country’s point-of-entry has remained on high alert following reports of increased numbers of cases in other countries.
The Zambian government official further said the country will encounter challenges in the acquisition of the AstraZeneca vaccine following India’s decision to prioritize the production of the vaccine for its citizens.
“Due to the unforeseen circumstances leading to increased COVID-19 cases in India, India is prioritizing the production of vaccines for its citizenry. This development has affected the production of the AstraZeneca vaccines for exports and countries like Zambia are likely to encounter challenges in the acquisition of the vaccine through the COVAX Facility,” he said.
He however said the government was actively engaging various stakeholders to mobilize more vaccines, adding that the government will ensure that adequate vaccines were acquired and deployed to all parts of the country.
Zambia launched its vaccination programs last month under the COVAX Facility with the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India. The country received 228,000 doses of the vaccines meant for health workers and other people most at risk.
So far, 120,209 people have been vaccinated following the vaccination of 5,442 more in the last 24 hours.
The country’s cumulative COVID-19 cases stand at 92,520 following 60 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours while 30 patients were discharged bringing the total recoveries to 90,892.