Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest (Discontinued on 31 Aug 2020)

Situation Report
Zambia — Trends

Spike in number of infections causes concern in Zambia

  • First case: 18 March 2020

  • Total cases: 11,779 (as of 28 August 2020)

  • Total deaths: 283

  • Schools: Closed country-wide from 20 March (4 million learners affected), excetp for examination grades.

  • Borders/Flights: Borders are still open, but international flights are only allowed in and out of Kenneth Kaunda International Lusaka Airport. All travelers to the country will be required to present a negative COVID-19 certificate.

  • 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 increased to 11,779 as of 28 August. The country has recorded 283 deaths. The outbreak has reached all ten provinces and 48 out of 116 districts have confirmed cases. Lusaka and Copperbelt remain the epicentre for the outbreak with increased cases in border point towns including Chirundi, Solwezi and Nakonde. The Ministry of Health announced it will open dedicated health facilities to strengthen case management and respond to the increased cases in Copperbelt and Solwezi districts.The country is reportedly bracing for an economic contraction of over 4 per cent in 2020 because of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to economist quoted by media reports.

With the recent increase in cases in the community the Government of Zambia continued to prioritize and strengthen risk communication and community engagement in adhering to public health mitigation efforts. On the 11 August, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced it would deploy police officers to ensure that people are following COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

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. However, authorities in Zambia have imposed a requirement that all travelers to the country should be required to present a negative COVID-19 certificate. 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. Schools have re-opened only for examination classes to ensure that end of year examinations continue as planned.

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.


  • The United Nations and humanitarian partners launched an Emergency Appeal to support the Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

  • Partners have distributed hygiene supplies, including soap and chlorine, for 733 schools across the country by the beginning of July.

  • Partners have also trained health workers on case management in Copperbelt, Central and Northern Provinces. Additionally, a total of 141 health-care facilities and isolation centres benefitted from WASH and IPC improvement measures. In the capital, Lusaka, partners supported a 20-day campaign sensitization campaign that reached 400,000 people. (Read more information on the response in the situation report. )

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