On March 22, Mozambique entered the list of countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to the Ministry of Health, as of April 17, there were 34 cases in the country: 26 of local transmission, of which 23 came from a single source of transmission in the province of Cabo Delgado. Until that moment there were no registered deaths, and two people had recovered, according to the ministry.
However, these numbers may not reflect reality, given the low testing capacity of the health system.
With nearly 30 million inhabitants, the country carried out 898 tests until April 17, according the National Institute of Health. Thus, when the World Health Organization (WHO) advise For health authorities to test all suspected cases, Mozambique tests only those who have severe symptoms or who have had contact with a confirmed case.
In parallel, the Government decreed a state of emergency, and initially adopted some drastic measures, such as the prohibition of mototaxis circulation. After contrary demonstrations, and even violent, of the motorcycle taxi drivers, the authorities backed down and made the measure more flexible, and allowed the service whenever the client and the driver wore face masks.
Wearing masks on all public transportation has also become mandatory.
However, and as in many other countries, there is a great shortage of the product on the market.
Despite the fact that the government had directed the population to produce homemade masks with capulana – traditional Mozambique fabric, generally used by women to girdle the body – and other readily available materials, no plans were announced to finance this manufacture.
Government got engaged to distribute just 12,000 artisan masks – the equivalent of one mask for every 2,500 people.
The prices of artisan masks vary between 50 to one hundred meticales (about a US dollar) in the market, making them inaccessible to most.
The Center for Democracy and Development, a local civil society organization, criticized the government's measures:
Truly, most of the time, the government imposes restrictive measures to create the necessary logistics for its effective compliance by the population.
The truth is that, once again, the Government imposes restrictive measures without creating the logistics necessary for the population to comply with them effectively.
The Center for Public Integrity has already distributed masks free of charge to workers in local markets, in addition to raising awareness of prevention measures.
– CIP-Mozambique (@CIPMoz) April 9, 2020
Mask distribution continues, this time for vendors of the Zimpet Wholesale Market.
Protect yourself and protect others.
As Agência Lusa reports, the masks of the Center for Public Integrity are made of capulana and interlining – gummed cotton fabric with greater capacity to filter particles in the air.
From disposable tissue to protective layers of medical personnel
The shortage of protective material extends to health professionals. To avoid the situation, a group of doctors from Maputo Central Hospital, the country's largest hospital unit, was forced to resort to disposable tissue for the production of gowns, hats and protective layers of shoes and boots.
The production of this material, according to the hospital, is possible thanks to the participation of officials linked to the sewing sector.
Expect to know how this individual protection material is reduced, consider two cliffs of contamination to which the medical staff is subject.
It is hoped that this personal protective material will considerably reduce the risks of contamination to which medical personnel are subject.
The material is sterilizable, and can be used more than once, in addition to having a low production cost.
Steam baths to relieve symptoms of COVID-19
Worst-case projections of the spread of COVID-19 indicate that the peak of confirmed cases in Mozambique would occur in the middle of the year, with more than 1,000 infected and dozens of deaths.
Mozambique has just 536 beds and 35 fans in the country – therefore just over one for every million inhabitants. There are plans to acquire more than 300 fans.
The conditions mean a high risk of collapse of the health network. Thus, the authorities have made efforts to delay the puico to January or February 2021, while the National Health Service gains time to mobilize resources, strengthen the system, better understand the epidemic and until a treatment or vaccine arises.
Of course, Health Minister Armindo Tiago has recommended that those who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 perform steam baths to relieve them, he said in an interview with Mozambique Television.
Baphos consist of inhaling vapors from a mixture of herbs or medicinal plants in boiled water. This is a common practice in Mozambique, which is generally made from eucalyptus and guava leaves. A mixture is made in a cauldron, and the person who will make the bafo is wrapped in a blanket for a few minutes to perspire enough.
The leaves used to make the bafo circulate for commercialization in various cities of the country, as the Verdade newspaper illustrated, at 50 meticales (less than one US dollar:
– Verdade Democracia (@DemocraciaMZ) April 12, 2020
Entrepreneurship: COVID-19 at the epicenter of the new coronavirus in Mozambique, each bunch of eucalyptus 50 meticales.