Fingers crossed, it seems like things are going better than expected

As far as we know Covid-19 has not yet taken hold in Mozambique. There have been around 35 cases in Maputo connected with government officials and others returning from overseas. Also a similar number in Afungi in the far north at a Total Oil project which can be traced to one individual. All together 80 cases, 72 of which are local transmission and 8 imported. The state of emergency has been extended for a further 30 day to end of May.

With no new cases for 3 days health officials are cautiously optimistic that the transmission has been successfully contained. However, testing is not taking place on a large scale and often there are delays with getting test results because of the need to collect and transfer samples over long distances. There are also new concerns about large numbers of Zimbabweans returning from overseas and crossing Mozambique from the Port of Beira to the border crossing at Mutare. Still, based on the news that’s being made available to us, its looking better than we might have expected.

The island, much quieter than I’ve ever seen it before

Unusually empty street in front of the central ‘green’ mosque

Here on Ilha life continues, but at an even slower pace if you can imagine that. Lots of people wear capulana face masks, every place of business has a hand wash station at the entrance, individuals ‘social distance’ or at least no longer kiss or shake hands. Apart from a French family that unexpectedly arrived here from Maputo last week there have been no tourists. On weekends, a few people still drive here from Nampula and Nacala, but with no cafes, bars or restaurants open there isn’t much to attract day trippers and the numbers will surely get less.

Livelihoods

Lots of people, formal and informal workers, are out of a job. All the hotels, lodges, guest houses are closed and staff sent home. With nobody eating in restaurants there’s no need to deliver fresh seafood, so the familiar site of fishermen struggling with a giant swordfish, going door to door selling the day’s catch of tuna, lobster or any of the other favourites is sadly absent. I guess the same applies to chickens, no longer to be seen dangling upside down from the handlebars of a trader’s bike. The chickens would be happy about that. TVM news feature. The impact on tourism

Dhow boats are still bringing people from Cabaceira in the morning, but they just come and go. There isn’t the usual colourful flotilla waiting on the beach in the hope of picking up tourists to go to Carrusca or one of the nearby islands.

Schools and the university remain closed so the noisy chatter of students going to and fro from classes is gone, and also the small traders that sell snacks etc..

Few will complain about less noisy motorbike taxis whizzing up and down the narrow streets, also less chapas and traffic in general.

Crime

With so many people losing their livelihood you could expect a bit of petty theft, opportunistic pinching. I always say that Ilha de Mozambique is the safest place I’ve ever lived, and it is, but maybe things are changing a little as the local economy collapses and people become desperate.

Environment

I know that all around the world nature is reestablishing itself, like the coyote spotted in New York’s urban jungle. I wish I could say that I’ve seen herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically past the old mosque, a leopard with cubs spotted in Makuti Town, but those things haven’t happened. I did however find a round bodied toad slowly making his way along the garden path on his funny little legs, some ridiculously fat caterpillars eating the leaves on the citrus tree, a sooty falcon swooping by and the biggest surprise, a cheeky monkey with bright blue balls hanging out in the backyard tree.

Vervet monkey on the island. Never seen it before

Other than that it’s very quiet, almost like a ghost town. The quiet before the storm perhaps?

 

 

 

 

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