Maputo — The number of people in Mozambique infected with the new coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease Covid-19, has increased from five to seven in the space of a day, according to the National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, speaking at a Maputo press conference on Thursday.
The two new cases, one a Mozambican and one a foreigner (whose nationality was not given), are both described as men above 40 years of age, resident in Maputo City. They were among 21 people tested, in a span of 24 hours, by the National Health Institute (INS).
The two men had returned to Maputo in the first half of March, one from France and the other from the United Kingdom. Marlene said they both display "mild symptoms", and are under home quarantine.
"So our country currently has seven positive cases, of which six were imported, and one is a case of local transmission", she said. The health authorities are following up 88 people with whom the seven cases are known to have been in contact.
The total number of people tested has risen to 98, of whom 91 proved negative for Covid-19, and seven positive.
The number of people in quarantine, as of Thursday afternoon, was 1,216. However, this number should now increase dramatically with the mass return of Mozambicans from South Africa on Thursday, in advance of the lockdown decreed by the South African government.
Large numbers of Mozambicans working in South Africa (some sources put the figure at 23,000) returned via the Ressano Garcia border post. Under Mozambican rules for dealing with Covid-19, they should all go into quarantine for 14 days.
Asked how the authorities are dealing with this situation, Marlene said the authorities have strengthened the teams of health, immigration and police staff at Ressano Garcia. This, she said, will make it possible to collect details about the profiles and addresses of those who ought to be in quarantine.
She said the Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane and Manica provincial health directorates will work together to follow up the quarantine of the Mozambicans who have returned from South Africa.
"It's true that they are rather scattered", said Marlene, "So we have to make an effort with the health directorates in the provinces where these citizens are going, so that we can follow them up".
Controlling people in quarantine is "a new reality" for Mozambique, she admitted. In the event that the authorities identify a person who has broken quarantine, "they will act according to the law", said Marlene.