Mozambique: Easing of Restrictions Does Not Mean End of the Pandemic

Maputo — The relaxation of restrictions imposed by the Mozambican government, as part of efforts to restrict the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease, “does not mean that the pandemic is over in Mozambique”, warned the Deputy National Director of Public Health, Benigna Matsinhe, on Monday.

Speaking at a Maputo press conference, Matsinhe stressed that the easing of restrictions “seeks to ensure a balance between the struggle against the coronavirus and the stabilisation of the economy”.

Among the measures announced by President Filipe Nyusi on 17 December was the re-opening of bars and kiosks selling alcoholic drinks, which had been closed down when the first state of emergency was announced on 1 April. People may buy and consume alcohol at these places between 09.00 and 16.00 from Sunday to Thursday and between 09.00 and 19.00 on Fridays and Saturdays. The closing time for markets has now been extended from 17.00 to 18.00.

The upper limit on the number of people legally allowed to attend private parties and ceremonies has been raised from 40 to 50 in closed, or semi-open spaces, and to 150 in the open air.

Nyusi warned that the government may reverse some or all of these measures, if the situation deteriorates. “We can decree lockdown measures in a particular province, or ban people from visiting a particular beach”, he said.

Matsinhe warned that the trend for people to gather together in larger numbers during the festive season poses a public health threat. The Health Ministry, she said, is urging families and groups of friends “to comply with the general measures of prevention against the disease in order to avoid greater personal and collective damage”.

Furthermore, a new strain of the coronavirus has been detected, which is causing havoc in Europe. But this strain has also been identified in South Africa, Matsinhe said, and seemed to be affecting young people in particular. “This shows we must remain on alert against the disease”, she stressed. “We insist that prevention must remain our main weapon in the fight against Covid-19”.

She announced that another patient has died from Covid-19, pushing the Mozambican death toll from the disease up to 149. The latest victim was a 46 year-old Mozambican man, hospitalised in Maputo city. He died on Monday morning.

Since the start of the pandemic, 259,914 people have been tested for the coronavirus, 1,266 of them in the previous 24 hours. Of the samples tested, 558 were from Maputo city, 263 from Cabo Delgado, 104 from Nampula, 78 from Gaza, 75 from Zambezia, 65 from Tete, 49 from Manica, 43 from Inhambane, 19 from Maputo province and 12 from Niassa. No tests were undertaken in Sofala province.

1,139 of the tests gave negative results, and 127 people tested positive for the coronavirus. This brings the total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Mozambique to 17,695. Of the new cases, 124 are Mozambicans, one is Italian, one Indian and one Argentinian.

73 of the cases were men or boys and 54 were women or girls. Ten were children under the age of 15, two were over 65 years old and there was no age information for seven cases. 52 of the cases were from Maputo city and ten from Maputo province. Thus Maputo city and province accounted for almost half the new cases. There were also 21 cases from Gaza, 17 from Nampula, 16 from Inhambane, and 11 from Zambezia.

In line with standard Health Ministry procedure, all 127 new cases are in home isolation, and their contacts are being traced.

Over the previous 24 hours, Matsinhe said, a further eight Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital, all in Maputo city. No patients were discharged. Currently, 45 people are under medical care in the Covid-19 isolation wards (40 in Maputo, two in Matola, one in Nampula, one in Zambezia and one in Manica).

Matsinhe said that 27 of those hospitalised are men and 18 are women. One is a child under 15 years of age, two are youths aged between 15 and 24, 29 are adults aged between 25 and 59 and 13 are over 60 years old. She described the clinical state of 26 as “moderate”, while 17 are seriously ill and two are in a critical condition.

Matsinhe added that, in the same 24 hour period, 279 people had made a full recovery from Covid-19 (262 in Maputo city, 13 in Zambezia and four in Tete). This brings the total number of recoveries to 15,733 – which is 88.9 per cent of all those diagnosed in Mozambique with the coronavirus.

The number of active Covid-19 patients has fallen to 1,809, distributed as follows: Maputo city, 1,320 (73 per cent of the total); Maputo province, 142; Cabo Delgado, 112; Niassa, 42; Sofala, 42; Gaza, 41; Nampula, 35; Zambezia, 27; Inhambane, 27; Tete, 13; Manica, eight.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique