Maputo — The Mozambican Ministry of Health announced on Monday that to date 57,305 health professionals have been vaccinated against the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease, which is 88 per cent of the target set by the Ministry.
Vaccination began on 8 March, using the ViroCell vaccine produced by the Chinese company Sinopharm. The Chinese government donated 200,000 doses of this vaccine. Health professionals were the first group to be vaccinated, because of their high risk of exposure to Covid-19.
Not all health workers could be vaccinated. The vaccine is not given to pregnant women or to lactating mothers, or to people who have tested positive for Covid-19.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, the Deputy National Director of Public Health, Benigna Matsinhe, said that on Monday vaccination begins of other people in the health sector who are not directly employed by the National Health Service. These include village health workers, staff of NGOs, workers in private health units, gravediggers and mortuary staff.
The government had set a target of vaccinating 61,017 health professionals. The 57,305 who were vaccinated should take a second dose of the vaccine as from 29 March.
Turning to the resumption of face-to-face teaching in Mozambican schools as from Monday, Matsinhe called for strict control in the schools of the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. This includes frequent washing or disinfection of pupils' hands, the obligatory use of masks, and social distancing of at least 1.5 metres between individuals.
After a year in which the schools were closed, more than eight million pupils are now returning to the classrooms, which is more than 25 per cent of the entire Mozambican population. This, Matsinhe said, meant a large number of people moving around and inevitably creating interpersonal contacts. She urged that the re-opening of the schools should not become a risk for a new wave of infections, and urged all parents and teachers to step up their education of the children on how to avoid contracting Covid-19.
"We should strengthen the messages about the preventive measures that our children should follow in this return to school", she said. "In the fight against Covid-19, an individual is only effectively protected, if all those around him are also protected, because that's the way to break the cycle of transmission of the disease".