Maputo — A second person has died in Mozambique of the Covid-19 respiratory disease, and the disease has now reached the only province previously untouched by the coronavirus, Niassa, in the far north.
Speaking in Maputo on Thursday, at the Health Ministry's daily press conference on the Covid-10 situation, the National Director of Public Health, Rosa Marlene, said the death was of a Mozambican woman, in the 45-50 year age group, in the northern city of Pemba.
She had only recently been diagnosed with Covid-19, and was one of the new cases announced by Marlene at the press conference on Wednesday. She had already been hospitalised for other illnesses, including a diseased liver.
Hers was the second confirmed Covid-19 death. The first was that of a 13 year old girl in Nampula city, whose death was announced on Monday.
Marlene said the number of coronavirus tests carried out in Mozambique has now reached 9,818, 488 of them in the previous 24 hours.
150 of the samples tested were from Maputo city, 113 from Maputo province, 115 from Cabo Delgado, 69 from Tete, 14 from Sofala, nine from Zambezia, eight from Niassa, four from Inhambane, four from Gaza, and two from Nampula.
482 of those tested proved negative, and six people tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases detected since the outbreak started to 233. Five of the new cases are Mozambican citizens and the sixth is a Briton. One of the cases is asymptomatic, and the other five have mild to moderate symptoms.
For the first time, Niassa enters the Mozambican coronavirus map. A woman in the 35-44 age group from the district of Mavago was diagnosed with the disease. Her diagnosis results from the policy of testing people with signs of respiratory illness.
In Cabo Delgado, three more positive cases were diagnosed in Pemba city. All are men, and are aged between 25 and 59. Two of these cases are contacts of people diagnosed earlier with the disease, and so are further evidence that the Health Ministry's policy of contact tracing is bearing fruit.
In Nampula city, a man in the 45-59 age group tested positive, bringing the number of cases diagnosed in Nampula to 11. In Maputo city, a man in the same age bracket also tested positive. All six new cases are now in home isolation, and health staff are tracing their contacts.
A second Covid-19 patient has been hospitalised, Marlene said. He is in Cabo Delgado, and was taken into hospital when his condition deteriorated. He is said to be "stable", but Marlene described his overall condition as "moderate to serious".
The other hospitalised case is a woman in Inhambane province. Marlene said her condition is "satisfactory", and she expected her to leave hospital in the next few days.
A further 11 Covid-19 patients have made a full recovery. Marlene said they are all men from Afungi, in Cabo Delgado. Five are Mozambicans and six are foreigners. Afungi is the site of the camp operated by the French oil and gas company Total, which contains the largest single cluster of Covid-19 cases in the country.
All 11 of these cases had no symptoms of the disease, and they remained in home isolation until the infection was over. They bring the total number of people who have recovered from Covid-19 to 82.
Giving the geographical breakdown by province of the 233 positive cases, Marlene said that 131 were from Cabo Delgado, 44 from Maputo city, 22 from Maputo province, 12 from Sofala, 11 from Nampula, three from Tete, three from Inhambane, three from Gaza, two from Zambezia, one from Manica and one from Niassa.
As of Thursday, Mozambique's key Covid-19 statistics stand at 233 positive cases, of whom 82 have made a full recovery, and 148 are regarded as active cases. Three Covid-19 patients have died. Only two of these are classed as Covid-19 deaths, since the Health Ministry believes that other, underlying pathologies were responsible for the third death.
Marlene warned that the main reason for the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases was failure by many members of the public to respect the measures imposed by the government under the current state of emergency. Since there is no vaccine and no cure for Covid-19, the only measures that can be taken are preventive.
The current data showed the existence "of new chains of transmission of the coronavirus", she said. "This increases the responsibility of all of us towards the disease. All of us together must make efforts to slow down the spread of Covid-19".
The main preventive measures include a ban on most religious, political, cultural, sporting and other events that might attract large number of people, the obligatory wearing of face masks in public places, and insistence on social distancing - customers in shops and markets, for example, should ensure that there is a distance of at least one and a half metres between them and the next person.