Maputo — The general director of Mozambique’s National Health Institute (INS), Ilesh Jani, announced on Sunday that a third person has died from the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

Speaking in Maputo at the daily press briefing on the Covid-19 situation, given by the Health Ministry, Jani said the victim was an 84 year old man who died at his home in the northern city of Nampula.

He went to Nampula Central Hospital on 6 June, with “mild symptoms of a respiratory infection”.

A sample was taken from him on the same day, and the result was reported as positive for Covid-19 last Wednesday (10 June). The delay is because the sample had to be sent to Maputo for analysis: the Nampula laboratory to test for Covid-19 is unlikely to be ready before the end of June.

The man was put into home isolation and died on Sunday morning. Asked why he had not been hospitalised, Jani said that initially his symptoms appeared mild, and “his clinical state was apparently evolving positively. We believe that his death was accelerated because of his advanced age. He was also suffering from other diseases, including diabetes and high blood pressure”.

Jani said that, since the start of the outbreak, on 22 March, 18,620 people have been tested for Covid-19, 559 of them in the previous 24 hours.

Of the samples tested, 243 were from Maputo province, 120 from Nampula, 82 from Cabo Delgado, 73 from Manica, 35 from Maputo City, three from Zambezia, two from Sofala and one from Tete.

529 of those tested gave negative results, but 30 were positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases diagnosed in Mozambique to 583. 29 of these new cases are Mozambicans, and one is a Thai citizen. The new cases divide equally between the sexes – 15 men and 15 women. Five are children under the age of 14, two are adolescents in the 15 to 24 year age bracket, and the rest are adults.

14 of the new cases are from Nampula, eight from Maputo city, three from Cabo Delgado, three from Zambezia, one from Inhambane and one from Maputo province.

In line with Health Ministry standard procedure, all have been placed in home isolation. Health staff are now tracing their contacts.

As of Sunday, the breakdown of positive Covid-19 cases by province was as follows: Cabo Delgado, 191; Nampula, 179; Maputo City, 91; Maputo Province, 61; Tete, 16; Sofala, 15; Inhambane, 12; Niassa, six; Zambezia, five; Gaza, four; Manica, three.

83 of the positive cases are aged between 15 and 59, 11 per cent are children under the age of 15, and only six per cent are elderly citizens (aged 60 and above).

Although, in absolute terms, the number of Covid-19 cases in Mozambique remains small, Jani noted that he epidemic is speeding up. Across the globe, the average time it takes for the number of cases to double is 36 days. But in Mozambique, it has only taken 11 days for the number of positive cases to double (which compares with 13 days in South Africa, 20 days in Angola and 29 days in Zambia).