Mozambique: Health Ministry to Expand Testing Capacity

Maputo — The Mozambican Health Ministry hopes to expand the network of laboratories of the National Health Institute (INS), so that samples of suspected cases of the respiratory disease Covid-19 can be tested in the provinces, instead of all being flown to the INS central laboratory at Marracuene, in Maputo province.
“Apart from testing at central level, our target is to install equipment with the capacity to test about 400 samples a day in four regional laboratories”, the deputy director of the INS, Eduardo Samo Gudo, told a Maputo press conference on Tuesday. These laboratories would be set up in the cities of Beira, Quelimane, Nampula and Pemba, each able to process 100 tests a day.
This is only the start, since the INS plans to expand laboratory capacity to handle 6,000 tests a day. The stumbling block, however, is the availability of chemical reagents.
“We have to understand that the countries that produce these reagents are also affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”, said Samo Gudo.
The governments of some of these countries have banned the export of reagents. Even so, the Mozambican authorities are counting on support from cooperation partners to obtain the reagents as quickly as possible.
Once again, Samo Gudo insisted on the need to reduce the amount of traffic on Mozambican roads, in order to hinder the spread of the virus. “Unfortunately, urban mobility is still intense”, he said. The whole point of some of the measures taken by the government, such as shutting down all schools, was to reduce movement, “but our monitoring of urban mobility only shows a slight reduction”.
Samo Gudo has repeatedly called for a cut of at least 50 per cent in road traffic – but he resisted the proposal, made by an AIM reporter, that the easiest way to take cars off the roads would be to increase the price of fuel. He preferred the path of moral exhortations, appealing to citizens’ sense of civic duty, patriotism and Mozambican identity.
Failure to cut out unnecessary travel could compromise the fight against Covid-19. “We want Mozambique to have the best scenario, and this will not be possible without implementing the measures recommended by the government”, said Samo Gudo.
The National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, announced that, over the previous 24 hours, no new cases of Covid-19 have been detected. It has now been over 48 hours since the last new case was confirmed.
She said 53 new cases had been tested over the 24 hour period, and all were negative. 44 of these cases were from Maputo city and nine from Maputo province. More samples are on their way from the northern province of Cabo Delgado, where there is a cluster of Covid-19 cases centred on the camp run by the French oil and gas company Total, on the Afungi Peninsula. These new samples should be tested on Wednesday.
Thus the key Mozambican statistics for Covid-19 remain: 39 positive cases, of which eight have made a full recovery, and no deaths.
According to the INS statistics, since the start of the crisis, 485,568 people (Mozambican and foreigners) have entered the country and all have been screened. 1,195 of these travellers are currently in quarantine.
Marlene warned that certain groups are at particular risk from Covid-19 – including people over the age of 60, and those suffering from obesity and from chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and cardio-vascular conditions.
She urged people in these groups to eat a healthy diet, practice physical exercise and avoid alcohol and tobacco.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique