Mozambique: Epidemiological Study Begins in Nampula

Maputo — The government of the northern Mozambican province of Nampula on Wednesday urged the population of the provincial capital, Nampula city, to collaborate with the health authorities for the success of the epidemiological survey launched that day.

The survey takes the form of rapid blood tests to determine the prevalence of the Covid-19 respiratory disease in the city. It is hoped that 8,000 people will be tested over ten days. This is a test, not directly for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, but for the antibodies to the virus. It should thus detect people who have been in contact with the virus, either now or in the recent past.

Obtaining a result from the blood test can take as little as 15 minutes. The health authorities warn that this blood test should not be confused with the swabs from the throat used to determine whether a patient is actively carrying the coronavirus.

Nampula city has been chosen because it is the part of the country worst hit by the pandemic, and the only place where it has made the transition from localised chains of transmission to community transmission.

The survey was launched in the Waresta wholesale market, which is a place where all the health warnings about social distancing and avoiding crowds are defied every day. Although footage of this chaotic market has been shown repeatedly on Mozambican television stations, neither the provincial nor the municipal authorities seem to have taken any measures to impose order.

Thousands of people mill around the market, some wearing masks, some not. There is no attempt to keep to the government-stipulated distance of 1.5 metres between stalls or between stallholders and their clients.

At the launch of the survey, the Nampula Provincial Governor, Manuel Rodrigues, said it had become necessary because of the sharp rise in the number of coronavirus infections in the city.

“We are all concerned, because we are already in a situation of community transmission in Nampula City”, he said. “That’s why the government has taken this decision. The survey will assess which people are most exposed to the risk of contamination, so that the necessary mapping can be undertaken, and appropriate solutions found”.

Rodrigues stressed that the community and local authorities have a crucial role to play in mobilising members of the community to take part in the survey.

“It is fundamental that we block the wave of contamination”, he declared. “We must all be available and willing to take the necessary tests so that the situation can be assessed”.

The survey is directed particularly at groups regarded as high risk, such as market vendors, health workers and policemen. It is hoped that it will detect the level of infection in these groups, and which parts of the city are worst hit.

The Deputy General Director of the National Health Institute (INS), Eduardo Samo Gudo, who is heading the survey team, said that, despite the short time available, teams are already on the ground working to complete the survey within the ten day deadline.

“Success will depend a great deal on the collaboration of the communities”, he said. “We are hopeful, and so we have stepped up mobilisation activities, and the launch was undertaken by high-ranking provincial leaders”.

“The information we want to gather is very important, and will be very useful for our response to Covid-19 to be better planned”, said Samo Gudo. “We cannot work on the basis of incomplete or imprecise information, it has to be on the basis of correct figures. That’s our expectation. We plan to release the preliminary results publicly on 1 July”.




Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique