In Zambia, 39 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as at 2 April 2020. These cases involve both imported and local transmissions. In view of the potential spread of coronavirus to other regions of the country, there has been urgent to increase the workforce of frontline staff to contain this pandemic through: active surveillance, monitoring, contact tracing of persons epidemiologically linked to confirmed cases and ensuring persons with exposure to confirmed cases or with history of travel to high risk areas adhere to self-quarantine.
Zambia FETP has involved FETP alumni and Frontline trainees in COVID-19 response activities:
1. COVID-19 active surveillance
The program has identified and attached one advanced alumnus and one resident to be incorporated in surveillance, case detection, outbreak investigation, data analysis and reporting. Surveillance strengthening activities planned by Zambia National Public Health institute (ZNPHI), with support from Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC-Zambia), include: integration of COVID testing into the existing ILI/SARI surveillance system, active case finding at hospitals and TB clinics, COVID-19 mortality surveillance, syndromic surveillance using SmartCare (an electronic medical record in Zambia), active surveillance for ILI at pharmacies, and the WHO ‘First Few Infections’ protocol. FETP are involved (or will be involved) in all aspects of these activities.
2. Monitoring and contact tracing
Since January 2020, the ZNPHI with support from CDC-Zambia, has facilitated the involvement of 10 Frontline FETP trainees in monitoring of travelers from high-risk countries to ensure adherence to self-quarantine and, to enhance early detection, and contact tracing of persons epidemiologically linked to confirmed cases. It was this team that detected the first two COVID-19 cases (among returning travelers) in Zambia.
3. Outbreak Investigations
All alumni and residents residing in the epicenter (Lusaka) have been actively involved in various roles in COVID-19 Incident Management System (IMS) including case and outbreak investigations.
4. Capacity Building
Zambia FETP alumni and current residents have supported provincial, district and sub-district levels clinical orientations, rapid response teams (RRTs), IMS, and data analytics trainings
5. Risk communication
FETP alumni and current residents have been involved in efforts to reach the public with accurate and timely information about COVID-19 in Zambia.