The Importance of a Field Epidemiology Rapid Response to COVID-19: Nampula City, Mozambique
In Mozambique’s Nampula Province, the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed on May 24, 2020, and the first death was announced the next day. On June 6, 2020, the National Institute of Health deployed a team to support the provincial team as the government declared that community transmission was spreading. I joined the group as a resident of the Mozambique Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP). Nampula Province had the second highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mozambique two days after my arrival, with 24 percent (365 out of 1,507 cases), and the most active cases in Mozambique, with 22 percent (222 out of 989 cases).
On June 23, the national and provincial health teams conducted a rapid knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) study. We also interviewed 118 people in the four most population-dense markets to determine why people were not compliant with the social distancing protocols that were in effect. A quick response was critically important to controlling the outbreak, and we successfully planned our strategy, conducted interviews and data analysis, and presented the results in 48 hours. The findings of this study supported health authorities and municipalities to inform their decision to close, temporarily, the city’s largest market. The authorities conducted activities that included cleaning, disinfecting, and reorganizing common points of contact. As an FELTP resident, I felt responsible for contributing to the decision making process through the implementation of a rapid response to COVID-19 in Mozambique.