Maputo — A Mozambican health team has tracked down 63 contacts of the man working in the hydrocarbon industry in the northern province of Cabo Delgado who last week tested positive for the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Sunday, the Deputy Director of the National Health Institute (INS), Eduardo Samo Gudo, said that the man in question lives in Maputo, but had been working in the camp run by the French oil and gas company Total, on the Afungi Peninsula in the Cabo Delgado district of Palma. About half of the people he had been in contact with are in Palma, and most of the other half are in Maputo.
The first batch of samples from the Cabo Delgado contacts will be sent to the INS laboratory in Maputo on Monday, and a second batch will follow on Wednesday. Although 63 contacts were identified, as of Sunday samples had only been taken from 15 of them.
Samo Gudo explained that a contact is anyone who has embraced, kissed or shaken hands with a contaminated person or who has spent at least 15 minutes in close proximity with him. Such a contact should be ordered to undergo home quarantine for 14 days.
A brigade was sent from Maputo on Thursday to collaborate with the Cabo Delgado Provincial Health Directorate, and is continuing to work on the case.
The National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, told the reporters that over the previous 24 hours, 22 people had been tested for Covid-19, and all had proved positive. Thus Mozambique's overall picture for the disease remains ten positive cases, one of whom has made a full recovery and no deaths.
According to the latest daily bulletin from the INS, 414,160 people who entered the country have been screened, and 7,614 of them remain in quarantine.
Rita Freitas, General Inspector of the National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE), also addressed the press conference and said that in the previous 24 hours INAE had ordered the closure of 1,250 bars and stalls selling alcoholic drinks throughout the country. Under the State of Emergency regulations, all commercial places of entertainment must close, since they attract crowds and might therefore be fertile ground for the spread of the coronavirus.
This ban, she said, extends to night clubs, discotheques, casinos, cinemas, theatres and museums. Markets may stay open, but any bars within the markets must close.
Freitas said markets should open at 06.00 and must close at 17.00. The stallholders should practice social distancing - that is, there should be a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between one stallholder and the next, and between the stallholders and their clients.
Restaurants may remain open, she said, but must not become substitutes for bars. The authorities should not tolerate groups of people going to restaurants merely to drink alcohol, although ordinary clients may drink beer or wine with their meals "in moderation".
Restaurants, Freitas, added should reduce their number of tables, and ensure social distancing between their customers.
Likewise bottle stores may continue their business, but alcohol must not be consumed on the premises. Prior to the current state of emergency, group of people frequently gathered on the pavement outside bottle stores to drink and socialize. That must now stop, said Freitas. Clients who buy alcohol in the bottle stores are expected to take their purchases home.
Such strict measures are necessary, the authorities say, if the country is to avoid total lockdown (such as is happening now in South Africa and many European countries).