Maputo — The Mozambican health authorities announced on Tuesday that a further 49 people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Health, since the first case was diagnosed, on 22 March, 41,745 people have been tested for the coronavirus, 884 of them in the previous 24 hours. 596 of these tests were administered in public facilities and 288 in private laboratories.

Of the samples tested, 309 were from Maputo city, 279 from Cabo Delgado, 197 from Zambezia, 65 from Nampula, 32 from Maputo province and two from Inhambane.

835 of the tests were negative, but 49 people tested positive for the coronavirus (46 of them in the public sector, and three in the private laboratories). This brings the total of positive cases diagnosed in Mozambique to 1,268.

47 of the new cases are Mozambican citizens, and two are foreigners (one South African and one Indian). 38 are men and 11 are women. One is a child under 15 years of age, five are adolescents and youths aged between 15 and 24, and 43 are adults aged between 25 and 64.

23 of the new cases are Mozambicans returning from South Africa, who were tested for the coronavirus at the Ressano Garcia border post. Most of these are prisoners released from South African jails, as the South African authorities attempted to relieve prison overcrowding.

On Monday, South Africa repatriated 183 former prisoners. They had been jailed for a variety of offences, including illegal immigration, drug trafficking, falsification of documents, theft and poaching.

At the border they were tested for coronavirus, and gave their addresses and contact numbers to the Mozambican health authorities, so that they can be informed of the test results. All must undergo 14 days quarantine, and those who tested positive for coronavirus must go into home isolation until the infection clears.

“They will comply with the period of compulsory quarantine at their destinations”, Juca Buta, the spokesperson for the Maputo Provincial Immigration Directorate told reporters. Many are from other provinces, including Gaza, Inhambane, Manica and Sofala, and it will be up to the health authorities in those provinces to check on them, and ensure that they really do comply with their period of quarantine or isolation.

Nine of the new cases are from the Cabo Delgado provincial capital, Pemba, and four are from Nampula city. These two cities are, according to the Health Ministry, the only places in the country where Covid-19 has made the transition from an epidemic with foci of transmission to an epidemic with community transmission.