Mozambique: Health Ministry Wants ‘Transit Centres’ for Covid-19

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Health is looking at ways of opening “transit centres” to hold seriously ill patients, given the lack of space for new patients in the Covid-19 isolation wards in Maputo city health units.

The director of surveys at the National Health Institute (INS), Sergio Chicumbe, announced this possibility at a Maputo press conference on Thursday. He was speaking a day after President Filipe Nyusi had warned that the capital is running out of intensive care beds and ventilators.

“Mozambique entered this pandemic situation without the structural capacity to face the coronavirus, and this condition has got worse”, said Chicumbe. “As a way of filling the gap, we may be able to resort to private facilities where demand is low, and manage them as transit centres”.

But more intensive care beds and ventilators were not a definitive solution, he argued. In the absence of any vaccine or cure, prevention remained the best strategy for fighting the disease, stressed Chicumbe.

A further problem is that the country’s stock of coronavirus tests is now under pressure. There has been a great expansion of testing centres, and this is leading the Health Ministry to look at ways of boosting its stock of tests.

“At the start of the pandemic, our stock consisted of 80,000 test units”, said Chicumbe. “In the initial months we didn’t use many of them, but due to the increase in the number of cases, currently we are testing about 1,000 people a day”. (This is an underestimate – the figures issued by the Ministry in the last couple of weeks suggest that an average of well over 1,000 tests a day are being carried out).

Chicumbe warned that public health facilities will not be able to provide the Covid-19 tests that travellers require. The land and air borders between Mozambique and South Africa re-opened on Thursday, but a condition for entering South Africa is a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before leaving the country of origin.

Chicumbe said the Mozambican state will only pay for Covid-19 tests for people who are seriously ill and need medical treatment abroad.

“The public sector is undertaking tests carefully, and is looking at people whose reasons for travelling cannot be delayed, such as patients in need of intensive care”, he said. Mozambican tourists or business travellers would have to seek tests from private health facilities, at their own expense.

Chicumbe announced that, in the last 24 hours, another Covid-19 patient has died, pushing the Mozambican death toll from the disease up to 62. The latest victim was a 70 year old Mozambican man, hospitalised in a Maputo city isolation ward. He was diagnosed with Covid-19 on 12 September, and died on Thursday morning.

Over the same 24 hour period, three Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospital, but a further five were admitted. 51 patients are now under medical care in the isolation wards, one in Nampula and 50 in Maputo. Chicumbe said 34 of these patients are men or boys and 17 are women or girls. Five are children in their first year of life, and six are children aged between one and 14 years. 20 (39.2 per cent) are over 60 years old, and these elderly patients are regarded as a high risk category.

Chicumbe said that, of those hospitalised, 30 (over 58 per cent) are in a serious condition. The condition of the other 21 is described as moderate. They are suffering, not only from Covid-19, but from other chronic illnesses, particularly high blood pressure (32.6 per cent) and diabetes (30.4 per cent).

Since the start of the pandemic, said Chicumbe, 140,310 people have been tested for the coronavirus, 1,924 of them in the previous 24 hours. 1,188 samples were tested in public facilities, and 736 in private laboratories.

Of the total number of samples tested, 1,016 were from Maputo city, 201 from Cabo Delgado, 188 from Tete, 164 from Zambezia, 143 from Inhambane, 64 from Nampula, 54 from Sofala, 50 from Niassa, 33 from Maputo province, ten from Gaza and one from Manica.

1,764 of the tests gave negative results, and 160 were positive for the coronavirus. This brought the total number of cases to 8,888 since the first case was diagnosed on 22 March. Of the new cases, 153 are Mozambicans, two are Portuguese, two are Congolese, one is Chinese, one Spanish and one is from the United States.

85 are men or boys, and 75 are women of girls. 14 are children under 15 years of age, six cases are over 65 years old, and no age information was available for 11 cases.

The great majority of new cases – 110 – are from Maputo city, and 26 are from Maputo province. Thus 85 per cent of the new cases are from Maputo city and province. There were also ten cases from Zambezia, six from Cabo Delgado, four from Gaza, three from Tete and one from Niassa.

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

Chicumbe also announced that, in the same 24 hour period, 341 people made a full recovery from Covid-19. This brings the total number of recoveries to 5,573 – 62.7 per cent of all people diagnosed with the coronavirus.

As of Thursday, the geographical breakdown of all 8,888 positive cases, by the provinces where they were diagnosed, was as follows: Maputo city, 3,989; Maputo province, 1,542; Cabo Delgado, 714; Zambezia, 616; Nampula, 583; Gaza, 335; Tete, 305; Sofala, 237; Inhambane, 239; Niassa, 228; Manica, 109.

The basic Covid-19 statistics are now: 8,888 confirmed cases, of whom 5,573 have made a complete recovery, and 3,249 are active cases. 66 Covid-19 patients have died, 62 from the disease and four from other causes.

Chicumbe stressed that, since classes in 12th grade of secondary schools resumed on Thursday, parents, teachers and all of society must strictly follow the preventive measures laid down by the Health Ministry, to prevent the return to face-to-face teaching leading to a new wave of infection.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique