Mozambique: Covid-19 Putting Huge Pressure On Hospital Capacity

Maputo — The Mozambican health authorities on Thursday reported a further 829 cases of the Covid-19 respiratory disease, and 12 more deaths.

In the past seven days there have been 5,956 new cases - or an average of 850 a day. This single week accounts for 19.7 per cent of all the Covid-19 cases diagnosed since the start of the Mozambican epidemic on 22 March last year.

Over the past seven days, 72 Covid-19 deaths have been reported - an average of more than ten a day, and 25.4 per cent of all deaths from the disease so far.

A Ministry of Health press release said that the 12 deaths reported on Thursday all took place in Maputo city. Seven of the victims were men and five were women, and their ages varied between 28 and 101. One of the deaths was declared on 16 January, and there was no explanation for why it took five days to be included in the Ministry's statistics. One death was declared on 17 January, six on Wednesday and four on Thursday.

The total Covid-19 death toll in Mozambique now stands at 283. 226 of these deaths (79.8 per cent) took place in Maputo city.

The release said that, since the start of the pandemic, 316,171 people have been tested for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, 3,052 of them in the previous 24 hours. Of the samples tested, 904 were from Maputo city, 395 from Niassa, 366 from Cabo Delgado, 329 from Gaza, 244 from Nampula, 237 from Maputo province, 159 from Sofala, 132 from Manica, 125 from Inhambane, 109 from Zambezia, and 52 from Tete.

2,223 of the tests gave negative results, and 829 people tested positive for the coronavirus. Thus 27 per cent of all those tested in the previous 24 hours were carrying the virus. This brings the total number of Covid-19 cases diagnosed in Mozambique to 30,225.

Of the new cases, 795 have been confirmed as Mozambicans, and the nationality of the other 34 cases is being ascertained. 417 of the cases are women or girls and 412 are men or boys. 67 are children under the age of 15, and 33 are over 65 years old. No age information was available for 56 cases.

249 cases were from Maputo city and 114 from Maputo province. Thus Maputo city and province accounted for 43.8 per cent of the cases reported on Thursday. There were also 169 cases from Gaza, 83 from Niassa, 65 from Sofala, 47 from Manica, 42 from Nampula, 23 from Cabo Delgado, 20 from Zambezia, 16 from Tete, and one from Inhambane.

The Ministry release reported that, over the same 24 hour period, 13 Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospital, all of them in Maputo city. But at the same time 52 new patients were admitted, 51 in Maputo and one in Nampula.

The total number of people under medical care in the Covid-19 isolation wards is now 243, by far the highest it has ever been. 192 of these patients (79 per cent) are in Maputo, 11 in Tete, 10 in Nampula, seven in Zambezia, six in Matola, five in Manica, five in Gaza, three in Sofala, two in Cabo Delgado, and two in Inhambane. Niassa remains the only province where no Covid-19 patients are hospitalised.

The increased level of hospitalization is putting an enormous strain on the health service, particularly in Maputo. The private clinics that treat Covid-19 patients ran out of space over a week ago, and now must send their patients to the public service.

The main treatment ward for Covid-19 patients in the public sector is in the Polana Canico General Hospital. A ward in the Maputo Central Hospital (HCM) was initially envisaged as a transit centre to receive patients who would then be referred to Polana Canico, but it has now been transformed into a Covid-19 treatment centre.

But both the Polana Canico hospital and the HCM are reaching their limits. When it was a transit centre the HCM ward had 40 beds - now it has 100. 65 of the beds are occupied and at the current rate of admissions, the other 35 may soon have occupants too.

The HCM director, Mouzinho Saide, told the independent television station STV that, since the start of the pandemic, 375 HCM health professionals, including 110 doctors and 92 nurses tested positive for the coronavirus. Most subsequently recovered, but, as of Wednesday, there were still 100 Covid-19 active cases among the HCM staff - that meant 100 doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff who were in isolation and could not work.

Critical for Covid-19 patients is a supply of oxygen. The HCM ward used to need 29 bottles of oxygen a day - that figure has now risen to 110.

The Ministry press release also announced that, in the previous 24 hours, only 26 people made a full recovery from Covid-19 (16 in Cabo Delgado and ten in Zambezia). This brings the total number of recoveries to 19,510, or 64.5 per cent of all those diagnosed with the coronavirus in Mozambique.

Since the number of new cases still greatly surpasses the number of recoveries, the number of active Covid-19 cases continues to rise, and has now reached 10,428. These cases are distributed as follows: Maputo city, 4,728 (45.3 per cent of the total); Maputo province, 1,833; Manica, 713; Sofala, 592; Gaza, 513; Inhambane, 500; Zambezia, 462; Niassa, 395; Nampula, 321; Cabo Delgado, 231; Tete, 140.

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