2021-10-08 15:39:19 With Low Covid Vaccinations, Mozambique Closes Beaches Again
With Low Covid Vaccinations, Mozambique Closes Beaches Again
While wealthier countries with higher coronavirus vaccination rates are increasingly reopening their borders and economies, countries with more limited vaccine access are having to make more difficult decisions.
In Mozambique, popular beaches were closed this week due to fears of virus spread, less than two weeks after they were cautiously reopened. Authorities are concerned that beaches along the Indian Ocean, which are central to the country’s tourism industry and communal life, will become infection hotspots or encourage a lax attitude toward Covid-19 regulations.
According to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 5% of Mozambique’s adult population is fully vaccinated against the virus. Even as temperatures rise and summer approaches, authorities have warned that life cannot yet return to normal.
The Mozambican government announced the closure on Wednesday, immediately closing 18 beaches in and around Maputo, as well as in resort towns like Xai Xai and Tofo, for at least two weeks.
It’s a stark contrast to neighboring South Africa, which has the highest number of Covid-19 infections on the continent but has relaxed restrictions and kept its beaches open as vaccination rates continue to rise. Other popular Indian Ocean tourist destinations, such as Mauritius and the Seychelles, have welcomed tourists back following successful vaccination campaigns.
According to the World Health Organization, Mozambique has had an average of 30 daily coronavirus cases in the last seven days, with no new Covid deaths. Nonetheless, the country, which has recorded 150,899 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, has implemented strict measures to keep infections to a minimum.
The beaches were reopened on September 23 as the country emerged from a third wave of infections, but the reopening was accompanied by a warning that the easing of restrictions did not mean the end of the pandemic. Officials continued to impose strict regulations, particularly on beaches, prohibiting alcohol consumption, gatherings, and games, and imposing a 5 p.m. closing time.
Beachgoers were warned that breaking the rules would result in swift punishment. This week, a government spokesman, Filimo Suazi, announced the closure of several of Mozambique’s most popular beaches, blaming “bad behavior.”
Mozambique experienced its third wave of infections earlier this year, with more than 4,400 new cases reported in the first week of July. According to the US Embassy in Mozambique, the country’s health facilities were overburdened, with only three doctors per 100,000 people. The authorities acted quickly to close schools, limit market shopping hours, and impose an overnight curfew.