Mozambique: Contacts of First COVID-19 Case Traced

Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Health has undertaken intensive work of "contact tracing", to find out who the first patient diagnosed with Covid-19 met with after his return to Mozambique, reports Monday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".

This entails contacting the infected man's family, friends, colleagues and anyone else he may have met and testing them for Covid-19. The individual may have infected others who are currently not showing any symptoms. They need to be tested in order to break any possible chain of transmission.

A few more details of the patient are now available. According to a release from the Maputo office of the World Health Organisation (WHO), this 75 year old man returned from London on 20 March. It is thus highly likely that he contracted the virus in the United Kingdom.

He was tested by the National Health Institute (INS) on Sunday, and is currently undergoing quarantine in his Maputo home. His symptoms are said to be mild.

The revelation that Mozambique now has a Covid-19 case caused a firestorm of indignation on social media, with demands that the government reveal the patient's name and where he lives. This would, of course, be a serious violation of the patient's right to privacy, and of the confidential nature of the doctor-patient relationship.

Certain public figures, however, have announced that they are putting themselves into quarantine, just in case they may be carrying the virus. The latest to do so is Eneas Comiche, the Mayor of Maputo.

A statement from the City Council on Monday said that Comiche took this decision because he was in London on 10 March at an event also attended by Prince Albert of Monaco. The prince later tested positive for Covid-19.

Like any traveller, Comiche was screened at Maputo international airport on his return from London on 13 March. But at the time the United Kingdom was not on the Health Ministry list of countries regarded as major coronavirus risks, and so Comiche was not obliged to undergo quarantine.

On 19 March, the organisers of the London event informed Maputo City Council that Prince Albert had tested positive for Covid-19. Faced with this information, Comiche and the members of the delegation that had accompanied him to the UK decided to go into voluntary home quarantine.

The City Council release adds that Comiche and all the member of his delegation are in good health.

Two other well-known figures who went into voluntary self-isolation are Samora Machel Junior ("Samito"), son of the country's first President, Samora Machel, and the poet Filimone Meigas.

Machel said he took the decision because he had just returned from a five day stay in a country with cases of Covid-19 (which he did not name), and, although he had no symptoms of any illness, he thought it better to protect his family by going into quarantine.

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