Maputo — Samples collected from the contacts in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado of a man diagnosed with the new coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease, reached Maputo on Monday afternoon.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Monday, the deputy director of the National Health Institute (INS), Eduardo Samo Gudo, said the samples were taken from 30 people. They had been in contact with the infected man, who lives in Maputo, but works for the French company Total, which heads the consortium building liquefied natural gas facilities on the Afungi Peninsula in the Cabo Delgado district of Palma.
It is not entirely clear where the man became infected, but it is feared he may have spread the disease to fellow workers in the Total camp in Afungi. The man is in isolation in Maputo, while his contacts in Cabo Delgado are being obliged to undergo 14 days home quarantine.
Samo Gudo said the samples would be tested overnight at the INS laboratory in Maputo, and he hoped to give the results at one of the daily press conferences later in the week.
Asked how many ventilators Mozambique has available, Samo Gudo replied that no country in the world has enough of these machines to meet its needs.
"The countries most affected by the coronavirus, including China and the United States, don't have enough ventilators", he said. "The United States has over 500,000, but even so they have a crisis of ventilators".
Samo Gudo urged Mozambicans not to imagine that importing more ventilators would solve the problem. Instead, citizens should follow the advice given by the government concerning regular hand washing, social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel.
No amount of ventilators would save the country in the event of a large scale coronavirus outbreak, he warned.
"Even among those who use ventilators there is a high death rate", Samo Gudo added. "Between 40 and 60 per cent of those on ventilators end up dying. So the ventilator is not our solution".
He said that countries who had invested in acquiring ventilators ended up regretting their decision, because they later concluded they should have invested more in prevention to avoid the use of ventilators.
"Let's invest in prevention", Samo Gudo declared. "Let's comply with the measures announced by the government. Then we won't need the ventilators people talk about so much".
The National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, said that to date 367 suspect cases have been tested. Only four of these cases were tested in the previous 2 hours, and all were negative. So Mozambique's Covid-19 statistics remain 10 positive cases, one of whom has made a full recovery, and no deaths.
Samo Gudo explained the low number of tests on Sunday by the fact that at weekends, citizens tend not to go to health units. If they are feeling unwell, they postpone their visit to the clinic to Monday.
Out of 196 contacts of the ten positive cases, Marlene said, 57 had complied with the 14 days of obligatory quarantine, and had not developed any Covid-19 symptoms. Health staff are still following the other 139 people.
Marlene said that the Health Ministry has set up 15 centres with 586 beds to cater for any cases of people seriously ill with coronavirus who need hospitalization. With the support of the Ministry's partners, it was installing two tents in each health unit to handle people with coughs or fever, which may or may not by symptoms of Covid-19.
687 health professionals have been trained to handle patients suffering from Covid-19, and in each province, two ambulances have been allocated to transport coronavirus patients, if necessary.