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19 Mar 2020 | 10:41 AM UTC

Zambia: Country confirms first cases of COVID-19 March 18 /update 1

Zambia confirms first cases of COVID-19 March 18; further spread of the virus expected



On Wednesday, March 18, President Edgar Lungu confirmed Zambia's first two cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The patients are a couple who recently returned from traveling in France; they are currently receiving treatment in Chilanga.

On Friday, March 13, the health ministry announced that it had implemented a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period for travelers from or having transited through countries affected by the COVID-19 outbreak 14 days prior to their arrival in Zambia.

Additionally, the Zambian government announced that schools were to remain closed as of Friday, March 20, for an unspecified duration.

Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks. 


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.


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.