Maputo — Mozambique's National Civil Identification Directorate (DNIC) has temporarily closed down the Maputo factory that produces the country's identity cards, after a case of the Covid-19 respiratory disease was detected among its work force.
DNIC spokesperson Alberto Sumbane told a press conference on Tuesday that all workers in the factory have now been tested for the disease, and the premises disinfected.
He said that the case of infection was detected last Friday. "All the staff who work directly with the infected person are in quarantine", said Sumbane. "Nobody has shown any symptoms of the disease, but they must be tested so that we know the Covid-19 status of all the staff".
The factory premises will re-open on Wednesday, he promised, "after complying with all the recommendations from the health authorities".
Sumbane insisted that the closure of the factory will not cause any problems in the production of identity cards because it never reached its maximum capacity of 15,000 cards a day. "With the re-opening on Wednesday, we will be able to meet the demand", he pledged.
Last week, the DNIC received requests for only 14,698 identity cards (which was an increase of 70 per cent on the previous week).
The Covid-19 pandemic has also slowed down work on construction of the new airport at Xai-Xai, in the southern province of Gaza.
The chairperson of the Mozambican Airport Company (ADM), Emanuel Chaves, told AIM that the slowdown could compromise the deadline of May 2021 for completing the airport, "but the expectation is that when things return to normal, the pace of the work can be stepped up to guarantee that the airport is ready on time".
The need for an international airport in Gaza has been questioned, given that Xai-Xai is only 220 kilometres from Maputo.
Chaves, however, thought there was enough potential traffic to justify a new airport. He based this argument on the fact that many of the Mozambican migrant mineworkers in South Africa are from Gaza. He thought that thousands of Mozambican miners might prefer a short plane journey to the many hours they spend travelling by bus today whenever they want to return home (this assumes that such flights for the returning miners will charge fares that are competitive with the buses).
He believed the airport would also contribute to the development of tourism in southern Mozambique, and could become an important factor for industrial and agricultural investment in Gaza.
The airport will cost about 70 million dollars, mainly in the form of grants from the Chinese government.