Maputo — The pace of the Covid-19 epidemic in Mozambique appears to be increasing, according to data from the National Health Institute (INS).

Speaking at a Maputo press conference on Monday, the general director of the INS, Ilesh Jani, said there has been a steep increase in the number of diagnosed cases of the disease. The first case was diagnosed on 22 March, and it took 81 days before the first 500 cases were diagnosed. But the next 500 cases took only 23 days, and it was just another 14 days before the number of cases topped 1,500. The rise from 1,500 to 2,000 diagnosed cases also took 14 days, but the risen from 2000 to 2,500 took only five days.

It seems unlikely that this increase can be explained solely by the opening of more testing facilities, and hence the rise in the number of people being tested. It is more likely that there is a genuine spread of the disease, notably in Maputo, where the health ministry last week determined that Covid-19 has made the transition from an epidemic with foci of transmission to an epidemic with community transmission.

The number of districts recording cases of Covid-19 has gradually increased, reaching 92 (57 per cent of the total) on 8 August and 96 (60 per cent) last Sunday.

The national positivity rate (the number of people who test positive for the disease as a percentage of all those tested) has risen gradually and now stands at 3.7 per cent, an increase from the previous week’s 3.4 per cent. But the positivity rate in Maputo city is much higher, and by Sunday had reached 7.3 per cent.

A bright spot in this scenario is that the positivity rate in Nampula city, the first area where community transmission was noted, has fallen sharply – from 15.8 per cent, in the epidemiological week that ended on 27 June, to 4.9 per cent in the week ending 15 August (epidemiological weeks run from Sunday to the next Saturday).