Maputo — One of the people diagnosed earlier this week with the respiratory disease Covid-19, appears to have picked up the infection in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
In the briefing given to the press on Wednesday, this person was identified as a South African. But, speaking to reporters on Thursday, Health Minister Armindo Tiago corrected this, and said the man is a 61 year old Mozambican resident in Maputo, but who had travelled to the Cabo Delgado district of Palma.
"He didn't go abroad. He came from Cabo Delgado", said Tiago. "He went to Cabo Delgado as part of his job, and he returned to Maputo infected".
The French multinational Total, which heads the consortium exploiting the natural gas reserves discovered in Area One of the Rovuma Basin, off the Cabo Delgado coast, confirmed that the infected man had been working at the project site in the Afungi peninsula in Palma.
The project management, cited in Friday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax", said it had informed the local health authorities of the man's condition, and had also set about the task of tracing all the people who had been in contact with him "in order to take all the preventive measures necessary to limit the risk of contamination".
This included quarantining all those who had been in contact with the infected worker, and disinfecting the premises. Total stressed that the company will give "all necessary support" to the health authorities.
Tiago said a Health Ministry team will travel to Cabo Delgado on Friday to test those who had been in contact with the infected man, and try to establish how he had picked up the infection.
The Minister added that the man's contacts have been identified (thanks to Total, though he did not mention the company's name), and it was now just a matter of testing them all.
The infected worker has "slight symptoms" Tiago said, and is now in isolation at his home. Since there was no recent history of the man travelling abroad, the Ministry was treating this case as one of local transmission.
Of the other nine confirmed cases of Covid-19, seven had been infected outside of Mozambique and had carried the virus into the country. There were two cases of local transmission who had been infected in Maputo.
Tiago said that, in the previous 24 hours, 18 suspect cases had been tested, and all proved negative for Covid-19. Thus there are still only ten confirmed cases in the country.
The number of people tested since the beginning of the pandemic has risen to 302. According to the statistics from the National Health Institute (INS), 405,794 people have entered Mozambique since the start of the pandemic, and all have been screened. 5,386 people are still in quarantine.