Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday announced that all events attended by over 300 people are suspended, as part of the government's further measures to protect the public against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new Coronavirus that was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December.
Addressing the nation on Saturday night, Nyusi said that any events that do go ahead should not be held in closed spaces with inadequate ventilation.
This ban will clearly affect football matches and other popular sporting events, concerts, large religious ceremonies and political rallies.
It is not yet clear whether the ban will force a postponement of the next sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, scheduled for 25 March. The Assembly has 250 members, but once support staff, journalists, guests and members of the public are included, the total number of people in attendance easily exceeds 300. To make matters worse, they are crammed together into a fairly small, closed space.
Nyusi also announced the suspension of all state travel abroad. This will force the postponement of his own visits to Equatorial Guinea and Gaza, originally scheduled for later this month.
A further precautionary measure is the obligatory quarantine, for 14 days, of all citizens arriving in Mozambique from countries with "considerable active transmission" of the coronavirus. Currently there are ten countries on this list - China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, Germany, France, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. The Health Ministry is charged with updating the list regularly.
All arrivals at the airports and at terrestrial entry points must be screened. All those with serious coronavirus symptoms must be put into isolation.
"Public and private institutions must increase publicity for measures against COVID-19", urged Nyusi.
So far there have been no cases of COVID-19 detected in Mozambique, and Nyusi wanted to keep it that way. He called for the cooperation of all Mozambicans "above all to prevent transmission in our country".
"We are committed, in partnership with the private sector, to providing resources to our health system such as isolation wards, diagnostic equipment, and staff who are ready to respond to possible cases of infection, in coordination with our development partners", said the President.
He guaranteed that the Mozambican government is following the evolution of the pandemic, and establishing the conditions necessary to mitigate potential impacts on the economy.
Nyusi called on all citizens to observe strictly basic rules of individual and collective hygiene. "Let us all contribute so that COVID-19 finds it difficult to reach Mozambique", he urged.
Citizens should follow the official information issued by the Mozambican health authorities and by the World Health Organisation (WHO), "and should not become agitated with unconfirmed information spread by unofficial sources, sometimes on social media", he added.
An inter-ministerial group is working on the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nyusi, and will regularly provide additional information. This will include the results of a study currently under way on flights between Mozambique and the countries worst hit by COVID-19.