LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) – Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda, 97, has been hospitalized, his office announced Monday as the South African country struggles with an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Kaunda demanded that “all Zambians and the international community pray for him while the medical team is doing everything possible to ensure that he recovers,” according to a statement issued by Kaunda administrative assistant Rodrick Ngolo.
The brief statement did not specify the cause of Kaunda’s disease, but Zambia is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases, and the country’s founding president was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Center, a treatment center for the disease in the capital, Lusaka.
The 7-day average of new Zambian daily cases has increased dramatically over the past two weeks from 1.44 new cases per 100,000 people on May 30 to 8.91 new cases per 100,000 people on June 13.
Zambia, with a population of about 18 million people, has a cumulative total of nearly 108,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,348 deaths, according to figures released Monday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kaunda was a campaign leader who ended British colonial rule and he became Zambia’s first democratically elected president in 1964. He led the country, which became a one-party state, until 1991 when he was defeated. in an election after the introduction of many political parties.
During his rule, Kaunda made Zambia a hub for anti-colonial groups fighting to end the rule of white minorities in South African countries including Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Kaunda allowed guerrilla organizations to maintain military bases, training camps, refugee centers, and administrative offices.
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