Mozambique: Covid-19 Puts Pressure On Maputo Health Units

Maputo — Maputo City is in danger of running out of intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients.

Interviewed on Wednesday, on the Radio Mozambique phone-in programme, "Café de Manha", Ussene Isse, the National Director of Medical Care in the Ministry of Health, warned that the private hospitals in Maputo already have no beds left to care for Covid-19 patients.

The main Covid-19 isolation ward in the public sector, in the Polana-Canico Health Centre, is 90 per cent full.

Isse added that an extra 200 beds can be added in Polana Canico and in the Maputo Military Hospital. But he warned that, if matters continue to worsen, doctors may have to apply "the medicine of catastrophe" - that is, they may have to decide who lives and who does not.

Isse insisted that the top priority must remain the preventive measures against Covid-19 - such as regular hand washing, social distancing (leaving a space of at least 1.5 metres between individuals) and wearing masks.

Currently 135 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised - but they are very unevenly distributed among the provinces. 116 (86 per cent) are in Maputo city. In no other province does the number of patients reach double figures.

Meanwhile, despite the warnings by Isse and other senior medical figures, many citizens have abandoned basic preventive practices. Visiting Maputo markets, the independent television station STV found that the market sellers and their clients are no longer practicing social distancing, and many are not wearing masks (although this is supposed to be obligatory).

Many of the wash basins installed in markets last year have also fallen into disuse. Asked about their failure to take protective action, some market clients even claimed "the coronavirus has finished".

Even worse, in several state departments, large crowds are being tolerated as citizens queue up, sometimes for many hours, to obtain documents such as identity cards and driving licences.

Last year, the government simply extended the validity of many documents rather than encourage long queues, and it is not clear why the same attitude has not yet been taken this year.

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