Maputo — The first batch of the 11 million doses of vaccine against Covid-19 promised by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on 15 July will arrive in the country next Monday, according to Health Minister Armindo Tiago.
Speaking in the central city of Quelimane on Thursday, Tiago said 2.5 million doses are expected on Monday, and will immediately be distributed to the provincial capitals.
They will be used in the next stage of phase two of the national vaccination campaign. Tiago said that this stage is aimed at all people over 50 years of age in the country's urban areas - an estimated 1.2 million people.
Last week, Tiago said the vaccines being acquired are the VeroCell vaccine, produced by the Chinese company Sinopharm, and the single dose vaccine produced by the US company, Johnson and Johnson. He did not say whether the vaccines have been purchased or donated.
The Minister warned that citizens should not assume that vaccination eliminates the need to follow Covid-19 preventive measures. Vaccination will, in most cases, prevent those vaccinated from developing the most serious forms of the disease, but the virus will continue to circulate unless preventive measures (such as regular hand washing, wearing masks, and social distancing) are followed.
To date, Mozambique has received 1.56 million doses of vaccine - 384,000 doses from the Covax initiative coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 500,000 purchased by Mozambican private companies, 260,000 donated by the Chinese government and the Chinese armed forces, 108,000 from France, 100,000 donated by the Indian government, and 50,000 from Portugal..
Meanwhile, the cemetery reserved for Covid-19 victims from Maputo city and province, in the outlying neighbourhood of Michafutene, is rapidly filling up.
According to a report carried by the independent television station STV, an average of 20 bodies a day are being buried at Michafutene.
On Thursday, the cemetery administrator, Alfredo Faife, told STV "This morning alone ten bodies were buried. The way things are going, by the end of the day 20 funerals could be held here".
The Michafutene cemetery was opened fairly recently, and still has plenty of space for new graves, but Faife is worried that, given the current pace of Covid-19 deaths in the capital, space will eventually run out.
"We are under increasing pressure", he said, "but we are still able to control the situation. Indeed we recently received additional staff and equipment".