Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Zambia — Trends

Spike in number of infections causes concern in Zambia

  • First case: 19 March

  • Total cases: 1,531 (as of 2 7June 2020)

  • Total deaths: 21

  • Schools: Closed country-wide from 20 March (4 million learners affected).

  • Borders/Flights: Borders are still open, but international flights are only allowed in and out of Kenneth Kaunda International Lusaka Airport.

  • Containment measures: Travellers required to self-quarantine for 14 days; public gatherings, including conferences, weddings, funerals and festivals restricted to not more than 50 people.


The number of people who contracted COVID-19 in Zambia has dramatically increased during May, jumping from around 100 at the beginning of the month to over 1,000 on 31 May. Now, over 1,400 cases have been confirmed, as of 27 June, in at least 27 out of the 119 districts.

Nakonde District, one of the epicentres of the outbreak, was on lockdown from 10 to 20 May and borders closed to prevent transmission. Security forces were deployed to enforce the restrictions, with media reporting some incidents, including the arrest of nine motortaxi drivers on 21 May for allegedly protest the restrictions.

For the rest of the country, the Government has not ordered any closure of borders at any point of the outbreak to avoid the negative impact on trade and economy. Some other limitations and closure of some businesses have, however, been imposed. The Government has banned public gatherings and, effective 26 March, gyms, bars, casinos and night clubs were closed, and restaurants allowed to only serve takeaway. Essential services, including pharmacies and food stores, remain open, with orders to adhere to strict hygiene standards. Schools, colleges and universities were closed from 20 March, but markets and churches continue to operate. On 8 May, the Government lifted some of the initial measures and recommended the opening of schools for student examination years and opening of restaurants and gyms subject to adhere to public health measures and to social distancing. The wearing of masks in public places became mandatory and all retail business are required to have handwashing facilities at the entrances of their businesses.

Nearly 1.2 million children are missing out on school meals in Zambia due to the COVID-19 containment measures, according to WFP. The Zambian economy is expected to be adversely impacted by the decline in copper prices, depreciation of local currency, and economic disruptions due to lockdowns in trading partners, according to the IMF.

Official sources:

Ministry of Health Official Twitter and Ministry of Health Facebook Page

Ministry of Health Situation Reports

President’s address on COVID-19 impact and response - 25 March 2020

Other links:

Global Monitoring of School Meals During COVID-19 School Closures, by WFP

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Responses to COVID-19, by IMF