Mozambique’s National Migration Service (SENAMI) has confirmed the closure of the Ressano Garcia border post, which links the country and its largest trading partner, South Africa, with effect from Saturday as part of a strategic drive to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.The closure of the border post is in response to a raft of measures announced by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, aimed at halting the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), including a 21-day lockdown.
“South Africa is a sovereign country to take the measures it deems convenient for its security. We follow that there will be this closing from midnight this Saturday and we are on the ground to receive all national citizens who are returning to Mozambique because of this closure ”, SENAMI spokesperson Celestino Matsinhe told a media briefing on Saturday hours afor Mozambique ‘s Health Minister, Armindo Tiago confirmed that his country logged its 8th case.
According to Matsinhe, a large number of travelers and workers, mainly Mozambicans who work in South African mines have been returning home.
South Africa is now the epicenter of the pandemic in Africa, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases across the country’s nine provinces and it has has announced its first deaths from coronavirus infection
Asked if the border closure was also extended to goods trucks, Matsinhe said that “at the moment we have no official communication, but experience shows that trucks that transport goods have special treatment”.
According to Matsinhe, Zimbabwe, for example, imposed restrictions on the migratory movement as of the 24th of the current month, prohibiting the entry into that country of foreign and non-resident citizens, with the exception of truck drivers.
“Only Zimbabwean citizens enter Zimbabwe and if you are of a different nationality, you have to be a truck driver with your truck,” he said.
Meanwhile, at a separate media briefing on saturday in the capital, Maputo to present the situation of COVID-19,the Minister of Health, Armando Tiago, said that the country has a cumulative of eight positive cases, of which six are imported and two are transmission local.
“We have to say that the new case is local transmission, which means that we have, in the country, a total of eight positive cases, of which six are imported and two of local transmission”, said the minister, reiterating the need to guarantee the prevention, by strengthening individual and collective hygiene measures.
He added: “in the last 24 hours, 64 cases were tested, of which one gave a positive result, thus bringing the tested universe to 205, a figure that reflects the country’s existing testing capacity, which increases daily.”.
Mozambique has already closed schools and banned gatherings of more than 50 people.
Although Africa as a whole has not been hit as hard as other parts of the world by the virus, experts fear underfunded health services on the continent could be quickly overwhelmed by a sudden rise in cases.