Commercial banks in Zambia have decided to purchase 1,800 oxygen cylinders to help the country tackle the problem of oxygen shortage due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The banks have partnered with the Center for Infectious Disease Research in the project of procuring the oxygen cylinders following reports of a shortage of oxygen in the country, especially in Lusaka, the country’s capital.

“This quantity of oxygen as advised by the Ministry of Health will greatly help in reducing the acute shortage of oxygen in Lusaka Hospitals for at least three months,” the Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) said in a release.

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The Ministry of Health has expressed concern that the health facilities were witnessing COVID-19 patients in critical situations, with the majority of them requiring oxygen.

Zambia has recorded 3,028 new COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths in the last 24 hours, its health ministry said on Tuesday. This brings the cumulative cases to 133,659 while the total deaths stand at 1,744 following the 53 new deaths, the highest to date.

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According to figures, the country’s active COVID-19 cases currently stand at 20,071 out of whom 18,952 were under community management while 1,119 were admitted to various isolation facilities.

Among those admitted in isolation facilities, 757 were on oxygen therapy with 154 in critical condition.

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