Maputo — The government of the central Mozambican province of Manica has expressed concern at the presence of children on the streets, often involved in petty trade, in violation of the emergency measures decreed by the government to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
All schools are closed, in order to stop the spread of the disease. The government had hoped that children could continue their education through distance learning schemes. But many parents, ignoring the goverment pleas that children should stay at home, have sent them on to the streets to earn some money.
In the streets of the provincial capital, Chimoio, large numbers of children can be seen on the pavements, selling cakes, peanuts, fruit, bottled drinks, and even home-made face masks. Parents who use their children in this way are ignoring the distance learning classes the Education Ministry is broadcasting on radio and television.
The concern that so many childen are on the streets rather than at home was expressed on Monday at a provincial government meeting held to monitor the actions taken to mitigate Covid-19.
The Secretary of State for Manica, Edson Macuacua, described as "positive" the performance of the provincial government in the fight against the pandemic. But he challenged members of the government to draw up a plan of action for the next 15 days, making it their priority to stop people moving from place to place on the public highway - particularly unprotected children who are not wearing masks.
"As a government, our job is to make people aware of the need to stay at home", said Macuacua. "They should only go outside the home for matters of extreme necessity. In the markets, additional measures should be taken to ensure that there is genuine distancing between people, in compliance with the rules for preventing the disease".
He urged parents and guardians to be more responsible and not use their children for activities that put them in harm's way.
"Children cannot go into the streets", Macuacua declared. "The government closed schools so that the children can stay at home and follow the classes by television and radio. When they go onto the streets, they are exposed to the danger of contamination by the disease".
Macuacua also demanded greater discipline from truck drivers. He wanted them to act responsibly, and not to move around "in a disorderly fashion".
"The defence and security forces are called upon to maintain order so as not to allow any behaviour which is an attack on public health", he declared,
The future, he said, would depend on people obeying the preventive measures laid down by the government - such as avoiding crowds, washing one's hands frequently, wearing masks in public places, observing social distancing, and only leaving home when absolutely necessary.
So far, only one case of Covid-19 has been diagnosed in Manica, in Machaze district, in the south of the province.