Mozambique Reports Its First Case of Covid-19

Maputo — Mozambican Health Minister Armindo Tiago announced on Sunday that the country has diagnosed its first case of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, first reported in late December in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Addressing a Maputo press conference, Tiago said that the infected individual is a 75 year old Mozambican man who returned from the United Kingdom in mid-March (so just a few days ago). He tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. The diagnosis was undertaken by the National Health Institute (INS).

"We are sharing this information with you", said Tiago. "As we told you in the past, the Mozambican government will be the first to give information about Covid-19".

The infected man is currently isolated at his home. His symptoms are said to be mild, and so his case is not deemed serious enough for hospitalization. Tiago said that hospital conditions have been created to care for people with serious cases of the disease.

The Minister said that so far 338,427 travellers from countries with Covid-19 outbreaks have been screened. 1,248 of these went into quarantine, and about 600 of them are still quarantined.

Tiago added that, in recent days, 46 suspect cases have been tested. 45 were negative: the only case that tested positive was the 75 years old who had arrived from the UK.

Tiago urged all Mozambicans not to panic, and to comply fully with the individual and collective hygiene measures announced by President Filipe Nyusi on Friday.

Earlier on Sunday, the Labour Ministry guaranteed that the wages of workers affected by Covid-19 would be paid. Speaking on a Radio Mozambique phone-in programme, Deputy Labour Minister Rolinho Farnela explained that the wages will be paid through the social security system

"One of the missions of the National Social Security Institute (INSS) is to compensate workers in the event of disease, when they are unable to go to work, because the employer in this case cannot pay their wages", said Farnela.

He guaranteed that the social security system is prepared for a response to such cases. Furthermore, the trade unions and the employers' bodies have ordered a detailed study to assess the level of readiness of the INSS to handle a Covid-19 outbreak.

The publicly-owned posts and rail company, CFM, has announced that, as from Monday, all of its long distance passenger trains are cancelled. This affects the routes from Maputo to Ressano Garcia, Goba and Chicualacuala, respectively on the borders with South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe, and the lines from Beira to Moatize, in Tete province, and to the sugar town of Marromeu, on the south bank of the Zambezi.

This decision, CFM said in a press release, is intended to strengthen the preventive measures against Covid-19 announced by President Filipe Nyusi on Friday.

Commuter services will still run, from Maputo to Matola-Gare, Moamba, Boane and Marracuene in the southern system, and from Beira to Dondo in the southern system. The number of passengers will be restricted to 50 per carriage, in line with the government's decision to ban gatherings of more than 50 people.

CFM announced that it will increase the number of carriages per train, and increase the number of trains, if justified by the demand.

CFM called for maximum collaboration from rail users, and stressed that citizens should only travel in cases of great need.

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