Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday warned that the government will crack down on people who are defying the measures imposed to hold back the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Speaking at an event in Maputo launching Renewable Energies initiatives, Nyusi took the opportunity to warn that, as from now, the police will step up their monitoring of the preventive measures against Covid-19, and people breaking the rules will be held responsible for their actions.
The key rules are social distancing (the suggested distance between individuals is at least 1.5 metres), wearing face masks in public places, avoiding crowds, and ensuring that public transport is not overcrowded.
Nyusi attacked those who claim there is no crisis in Mozambique because the death toll from Covid-19 in other countries is much higher. Such comparisons were irrelevant, since Mozambicans needed to be aware of the country’s real capacities which are running up against serious constraints.
He pointed out that all the beds in intensive care units in Maputo city are now occupied by Covid-19 patients.
“That means that, if one of us becomes infected, there might not be any room for us in the hospital”, Nyusi warned. “And there won’t be a ventilator. Ethically, the doctors cannot take somebody off a ventilator or throw him out of a bed, just to accommodate another patient”.
“When we said we were going to relax the measures, people thought the disease was over”, said Nyusi. “It’s not over – it’s killing more people”.
The Mozambican Covid-19 death toll has reached 59, and all the indicators are that the epidemic has speeded up. Since the first case was diagnosed on 22 March, 8,556 people have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. But of these, 1,071 were diagnosed with the disease last week. 14 of the 59 deaths (24 per cent) also took place last week. September was by far the worst coronavirus month so far, particularly in Maputo city.
“Some of our fellow citizens, when they find themselves on a beach, behave as if the pandemic was now under control. They don’t observe any preventive measures”, said Nyusi.
Last weekend (which lasted for three days, since Friday was a public holiday) saw people flock to the beaches as temperatures soared. Alarming reports had been received of dangerous behaviour, not only from Maputo, but also from the beach resorts in the northern provinces.
Nyusi said he was not yet closing the beaches again, “even though I have been advised that I should close them. But I have faith in the awareness of Mozambicans and of all those who live in Mozambique”.
“But because of the anomalies that occurred last week, we shall strengthen our monitoring”, he warned.
Nyusi noted that preventive measures are also being abandoned in the markets. He insisted that market sellers must wear masks, and demand that their clients also wear masks. The same was true for bus drivers and fare collectors.
There should be no contradiction between public health and the country’s economy, he said. The country must both protect the health of its citizens and rebuild its damaged economy.