Mozambique: Covid-19 Jumps, But The Real Emergency Is Malaria and HIV

(File photo).

Mozambique's Covid-19 new case rate has tripled in less than three weeks. The case rate has jumped from 26 per day on 26 July to 79 on 15 August (7 day moving average). Total cases are now 2800 and growth is exponential; deaths are still only 19.

The real emergency is malaria and HIV, warned Eduardo Samo Gudo, deputy director of the National Health Institute. Malaria affects 9 million Mozambicans and killed 14,000 last year; 2 million live with HIV which killed 51,000 last year. (@Verdade, 9 Aug)

South Africa, with ouble the population of Mozambique, has had 570,000 Covid-19 cases and 11,500 deaths, but the number of daily new cases has dropped from 12,000 per day a month ago to 4,000 per day now. The lockdown is seen as successful, and has been eased, including permitting sales of alcohol and cigarettes.

South Africa has 8 million people living with HIV/AIDS and more than 75,000 have died of the disease last year. So South Africa has an HIV rate similar to Mozambique, but a Covid-19 rate more than 300 times as high.

Maputo with most cases. Maputo city and province (mostly Matola) have 60% of the active Covid-19 cases. The position on Sunday 16 August was 1,634 active cases: Cidade de Maputo: 629 (38%), Provincia de Maputo: 351 (21%), Nampula: 232 (14%), Cabo Delgado: 209 (13%), Gaza: 125, Sofala: 27, Manica: 25, Tete: 16, Niassa: 12, Inhambane: 5 and Zambezia: 3.

The chart (by Miguel de Brito) gives cases per 100,000 population, which is much higher in Maputo at 57 than even in Matola.

How many cases are there? Mozambique's official cases are only those that are testing positive. The National Health Institute has been doing sample surveys, which showed in June the 5% in Nampula city then were seropositive (that is, had or have Covid-19), and of that group, 66% had no symptoms.  For comparison, the UK Office for National Statistics does a household survey similar to Mozambique's which find about 6% of people in England and 10% of people in London have now or have had Covid-19. In Mozambique the disease is largely urban, and Mozambique's urban population is about 10 million, which at a 5% infection rate would imply 500,000 cases, compared to the official number of 2,770. Mozambique only has 18 people in hospital for Covid-19; nearly all cases are at home. That also means there must be many deaths at home, perhaps not identified as Covid-19 and simply assumed to be part of the tens of thousands who die of HIV and malaria each year.

Some loosening of foreign travel has been announced, There are now 22 border crossings open (7 land, 10 air, 5 sea) and international fights will be resumed. LAM is introducing a weekly flight to Lisbon from 25 August. But foreigners and Mozambicans leaving the country will require formal permission from the Minister of Interior. (@Verade, 17 Aug)

Schools could not reopen because so many did not have basic running water and sanitation. The Ministry of Public Works announced (AIM 14 Aug) a $50 mn set of contracts to 21 companies to upgrade the water and sanitation at 667 secondary schools and 15 teacher training colleges within 90 days. The companies selected must subcontract at least 70% of the work to local companies.

Finally noticing sexual violence

The media is finally noting the existence of sexual violence. An O Pais (8 Aug) investigation found that 28 female students at the police training school in Matalane, Maputo province, had been impregnated by instructors. One gave birth in the bush and the baby died. Eighteen of the women have contracted HIV/AIDS. Carta de Mocambique (11 Aug) found that many trainees at Matalan were ineligible but admitted corruptly - with money by young men and sex by young women. The instructors and women have been suspended but the women will be allowed to resume their course next year. The only comment from the police was to condemn the "bad faith" of those who talked to the press.

And more than 20 foster care centres for orphaned and vulnerable children in Nampula have been closed, after inspection found girls had been sexually abused and raped by some managers, Egidio Sousa, from the Provincial Directorate for Gender, Children and Social Action, said. In addition there was an absence of minimum conditions of accommodation and food. (VOA, 5 Aug)

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