Mozambique has updated its list of departure countries from where travellers arriving in Mozambique will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, to include Portugal, the US, the UK and more — but the rules are being enforced inconsistently, according to people who arrived in Maputo last weekend.
The quarantine applies to anyone who has been in those countries in the last 14 days, but the rules are being enforced inconsistently, amid a lack of readily available formal information on how to act as the country awaits its first confirmed case of the virus.
One Maputo resident, who wished to remain anonymous, arrived home with her daughter on Sunday 15 March from Switzerland, a country which has been on the mandatory quarantine list since last Thursday, 12 March.
“No one asked me where I came from,” she said, despite also travelling on a German passport — another country on the mandatory quarantine list. “They might’ve at least asked me where I’ve been,” she added. “My daughters and I are doing self-quarantine as much as I can, but no one told us anything in the airport. What are the dos and don’ts?”
Phil Psilos had a contrasting experience when he landed the same day, travelling home from Austria, via Germany, on South African Airways with his son. He said his temperature was taken, and he was asked where he was coming from. When he told them, “they sent me aside to a health screening line, prior to immigration.”
The health agent took Psilos’ date of birth, age, residence in Maputo, and other basic information, and reaffirmed the quarantine policy, of 14 days.
“I asked a couple of clarifying questions, about whether I can leave the house to take a walk, walk the dog, ride a bike. He said that’s fine, but reiterated no contact with other people,” Psilos said.
Zitamar also heard of arrivals from the United States on 15 March, including from affected areas, not being given quarantine instructions. The US Embassy said the Mozambican government informed it on 14 March that anyone arriving from the US would face a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
South Africa has closed three border crossings with Mozambique, but the border at Ressano Garcia, and all of Mozambique’s other land borders, remain open.
Travellers speaking to Zitamar told of mandatory temperature checks for anyone entering Mozambique at Ressano Garcia.
Anne-Marie Buijs entered from Zimbabwe on 14 March through the Forbes/Machipanda crossing, and said there was “not a single health measure” — contrasting with when she had entered Zimbabwe three days earlier, when she had been impressed by a health worker who answered questions regarding the procedures if entering from a corona, high-risk country.
Entering Mozambique through the same border a day later, Minette Kruger said she had been asked to rinse her hands with what “smelled like diluted bleach”, and her temperature was taken.
Developments in neighbouring countries “could justify the announcement of new measures in the coming days,” government spokesman Filimão Suaze said following the Council of Ministers meeting on Tuesday, 17 March.
But the window to act is closing, according to Carta de Moçambique editor Marcelo Mosse, who wrote on Wednesday morning that Suazi’s words were “vacuous”, and called for the government to establish a task force for communication and education about Coronavirus.
“Time is running out, but we can still do something. We shouldn’t wait another minute,” Mosse wrote.
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