Mozambique: COVID-19 in New Places

Until last weekend, Mozambique's Covid-19 cases had been concentrated in two places, a major outbreak at the Total gas construction camp on the Afungi peninsula in Cabo Delgado, where there has been active testing and tracing, and in Maputo-Matola. But in the past three days there have been 4 new cases in Beira-Dondo and 1 in Inhambane, with no apparent link to other cases, suggesting the disease is spreading in the community.

Yesterday, one new case was reported. A Mozambican deported from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19. He has been tested at a special test centre in Moamba, Maputo Province, for people returning from South Africa. He returned on a bus from South Africa with many other deportees, and the Ministry of Health said it was tracking down the other bus passengers.

As of yesterday, there were 25 cases in Maputo-Matola and 74 in Cabo Delgado, most in the Afungi camp but some in Pemba where there appears to have been some local transmission. The Health Ministry published a daily Covid-19 bulletin on

AIM (13 May) notes that the Sofala cases have alarmed the health authorities, because they do not form a single cluster, and do not seem to have any relationship with each other. Three of them (two children and an adult) live in Beira, but in different neighbourhoods, while the fourth positive case lives in the Mutua resettlement centre in the district of Dondo. There is no history of any contact between the four cases. None of them have any record of recent travel inside or outside the country. The parents of the two children have no symptoms of the disease.

The single Inhambane case was also announced on Monday, and the provincial health authorities are working to identify this man’s contacts. They told reporters that initial tracing had discovered 18 contacts (relatives and friends). The man had recently been in Maputo, and provincial director of health, Naftal Matusse, said he believed he had probably picked up the infection in the capital. “Five days ago, he went to the Inhambane provincial hospital because he was feeling unwell, with muscular pains, coughing and fever" and tested positive.

Three more cases were reported today (13 May), bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 107. Two of the cases are in Maputo City, one of whom recently arrived from South Africa who is asymptomatic. The third person also recently arrived from South Africa and is asymptomatic and has been allowed to go into isolation at home in Xai-Xai.

Covid-19 elsewhere

The table gives the details of Covid-19 for the neighbouring countries. Comparisons are hard to do because each country reports differently. The UK, for example, only reports Covid-19 deaths in hospital but not at home. And countries are of very different sizes. Despite differences in reporting, the best numbers for comparison are deaths per million population and tests per million population.
Africa currently has 71,000 cases and 2,400 deaths. South Africa and neighbouring Eswatini (Swaziland) are two of the most affected countries. In South Africa, the number of new cases continues to increase, from 400 per day a week ago to 650 a day Tuesday. But the death rate has been relatively steady for two weeks, at about 10 deaths per day.

The table below gives data for Mozambique and all of its neighbours. Mozambique is the only country with no deaths so far. Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania have very low testing rates.

For a comparison with Europe, there are a group of seriously affected countries, notably UK, Italy, France and Spain with a death rate of 400 to 600 per million population, a middle group which responded quickly (Germany, Portugal, Denmark) with about 100 deaths per million, and a group of countries further east with responded quickly and have kept cases very low (Ukraine, Poland, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria) which kept deaths down to 10 to 25 per million population. Testing rates in Europe are typically 20,000 to 50,000 per million population.

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