On Thursday, June 25, President Edgar Lungu announced the immediate reopening of all international airports. Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, all regional airports have been closed and while Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (LUN) in Lusaka never closed, only limited passenger and cargo flights by Ethiopian Airlines have been operating. The decision to reopen the rest of the country's airports has been made to encourage tourists to return in an attempt to revive the economy following the COVID-19 lockdown. Domestic carriers are now able to operate, although as yet it is not clear if any other international airlines will also resume operations.
Following the emergence of the first cases of COVID-19 in Zambia in late March, authorities closed borders and schools, banned public gatherings, and shut down many business sectors which were deemed non-essential to the economy. Schools, restaurants, and cinemas have since reopened as restrictions have been eased over the past two months. The wearing of face masks is compulsory in public places, whilst bars and taverns remain closed and gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.
As of Saturday, June 27, Zambian health authorities have confirmed 1531 cases of COVID-19, with 21 associated deaths.
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.
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