How Mauritius overcame Covid-19


Many of the world's popular tourist destinations have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Mauritius, a tropical island paradise and favourite holiday destination for South Africans, was among the numerous countries affected by the coronavirus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted more than 20,000 cases and 1,139 deaths in the group age of over 60 years for the Indian Ocean island. But there have been only 332 positive cases and 10 deaths – of which only five directly related to the coronavirus – recorded for the entire population.

According to a statement by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA), no new cases have been recorded in Mauritius for 20 consecutive days as of 17 May.

This is due to the responsiveness of the Mauritian authorities and the effectiveness of a primary health system well-seasoned in dealing with epidemics such as malaria or dengue.

Mauritius implemented precautionary and control measures before the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic.

23 January: passengers inbound from China are quarantined, a measure extended to other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan shortly thereafter.

2 February: there is an outright travel ban for these countries

16 March: Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced the closure of the borders of Mauritius to the countries of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland from 18 March for an initial period of two weeks.

19 March: following the announcement of the country's first three cases of Covid-19, the prime minister declared a state of national containment for 14 days. The entire economy shut down, except for essential services and a few grocery stores and pharmacies.

Sanitary confinement was tightened three days later. It was then extended three times, and a gradual opening of certain sectors of the economy commenced from 15 May.

"Mauritius's success in controlling and stabilising the coronavirus can, therefore, be explained by the importance attached to this pandemic by the Mauritian authorities. The closure of the borders first for the Asian countries affected by Covid-19 and then for all other countries, and the quarantine of Mauritians and residents coming from abroad, demonstrates the will to prevent the coronavirus from reaching the coasts of Mauritius," said the MTPA.

"We also note a desire for transparency and continuous communication with daily press conferences of the Mauritius National Communication Committee of Covid-19 and regular interventions by the prime minister even when he himself was in self-isolation. An application, beSafeMoris, was also launched for continuous and updated information on the situation and the necessary precautions to be taken," the statement added.

Mauritius believes that the experience of local health services for diseases such as malaria has greatly helped in monitoring contact tracing of people found to be positive.

MTPA also stated that the centralisation and creation of isolation units for people in need of intensive care has minimised the spread of the virus. Mauritius also created quarantine centres to accommodate all locals returning to the country.

Rodrigues Island, another part of the Mauritian Republic, located 600km from Port-Louis, recorded no cases of the virus. The sanitary confinement there lasted only 14 days.

MTPA confirmed that tests for Covid-19 will continue for everyone who worked during the confinement period, including medical personnel, police and employees of grocery stores.

As of 18 May, 87,177 Covid-19 tests have been performed and 149 people are still in quarantine.

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