Mozambique: Another 49 Coronavirus Cases, Many Among Returnees From South Africa

Maputo — The Mozambican health authorities announced on Tuesday that a further 49 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Health, since the first case was diagnosed, on 22 March, 41,745 people have been tested for the coronavirus, 884 of them in the previous 24 hours. 596 of these tests were administered in public facilities and 288 in private laboratories.

Of the samples tested, 309 were from Maputo city, 279 from Cabo Delgado, 197 from Zambezia, 65 from Nampula, 32 from Maputo province and two from Inhambane.

835 of the tests were negative, but 49 people tested positive for the coronavirus (46 of them in the public sector, and three in the private laboratories). This brings the total of positive cases diagnosed in Mozambique to 1,268.

47 of the new cases are Mozambican citizens, and two are foreigners (one South African and one Indian). 38 are men and 11 are women. One is a child under 15 years of age, five are adolescents and youths aged between 15 and 24, and 43 are adults aged between 25 and 64.

23 of the new cases are Mozambicans returning from South Africa, who were tested for the coronavirus at the Ressano Garcia border post. Most of these are prisoners released from South African jails, as the South African authorities attempted to relieve prison overcrowding.

On Monday, South Africa repatriated 183 former prisoners. They had been jailed for a variety of offences, including illegal immigration, drug trafficking, falsification of documents, theft and poaching.

At the border they were tested for coronavirus, and gave their addresses and contact numbers to the Mozambican health authorities, so that they can be informed of the test results. All must undergo 14 days quarantine, and those who tested positive for coronavirus must go into home isolation until the infection clears.

"They will comply with the period of compulsory quarantine at their destinations", Juca Buta, the spokesperson for the Maputo Provincial Immigration Directorate told reporters. Many are from other provinces, including Gaza, Inhambane, Manica and Sofala, and it will be up to the health authorities in those provinces to check on them, and ensure that they really do comply with their period of quarantine or isolation.

Nine of the new cases are from the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba, and four are from Nampula city. These two cities are, according to the Health Ministry, the only places in the country where Covid-19 has made the transition from an epidemic with foci of transmission to an epidemic with community transmission.

There were also 11 new cases diagnosed at Maputo city health units. In Maputo province, in addition to the 23 returnees at Ressano Garcia, one case was diagnosed in Tenga and one in Boane.

In line with standard Health Ministry procedure, all 49 new cases must go into home isolation and their contacts are being traced.

The Ministry release said that, in the previous 24 hours, three more Covid-19 patients were hospitalised in isolation wards in Maputo city. One patient who had been hospitalised in Inhambane was discharged, but must remain in home isolation.

There are now seven Covid-19 patients hospitalised, five in Maputo city, one in Matola and one in Gaza.

Four more patients recovered completely from Covid-19 - two in Maputo province, one in Zambezia and one in Inhambane. This brings the number of full recoveries to 373.

As of Tuesday, the geographical breakdown of the 1,268 positive cases is as follows, by province where they were first diagnosed: Cabo Delgado, 353; Nampula, 335; Maputo city, 212; Maputo province, 187; Tete, 39; Inhambane, 37, Zambezia, 30; Sofala, 28; Gaza, 23; Niassa, 16; Manica, eight.

In addition, the mining company, Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), in the Cabo Delgado district of Montepuez, has reported a coronavirus outbreak at its camp where 11 people have tested positive. According to an MRM statement cited by the Bloomberg agency, the test results were received on Monday.

The company said that most cases were asymptomatic, and they have gone into isolation. These Montepuez cases have yet to show up in the official Health Ministry figures.

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