Maputo — The number of detected cases of the respiratory disease Covid-19 in Mozambique has risen from seven to eight, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Saturday, Tiago gave no details of the eighth case, other than that the infection was locally transmitted. Six of the other cases were imported, and the people concerned are believed to have become infected outside of Mozambique.
The two locally transmitted cases are likely to have been people contacted by the other six. As of Friday, the health authorities were following 96 people known to have been in contact with those infected, checking whether they too have the disease.
Mozambique's testing capacity has increased. Tiago said that, in the preceding 24 hours, 64 people had been tested, of whom only one was positive for Covid-19. This brought the total number of people tested to 205.
Mozambique has also received a donation of 20,000 Covid-19 test kits from the Chinese Jack Ma Foundation. The National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, assured reporters that these tests meet the specifications of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and will "significantly" boost testing capacity.
The Health Ministry has also received a donation of 100,000 face masks and 1,000 individual protection kits for health workers.
Marlene also denied the claim, frequently made on social media, that only people living in Maputo are tested. The laboratory used by the National Health Institute (INS) is in Maputo, but the samples from the suspected Covid-19 cases are collected from wherever they are and sent to the INS.
The current challenge for the Health Ministry is guaranteeing the 14 day quarantine for the many thousands of Mozambicans who returned from South Africa on Thursday. There up to 23,000 of them, most of them workers on the South African mines.
They are now scattered across southern Mozambique, and obliging each and every one of them to send a fortnight in quarantine will be a gargantuan task.