World-renowned tourist paradise, the Republic of Mauritius has not escaped the Covid-19 pandemic. However, whilst the World Health Organization (WHO) predicted more than 20,000 cases and 1,139 deaths in the group age of over 60 years, there will have been only 332 positive cases and only 10 deaths for the whole population, of which only five directly related to the coronavirus. As of Sunday, May 17, no new cases have been recorded in Mauritius for 20 days. The reasons for this control of the pandemic are to be found in 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.
To put the records straight, Mauritius did not wait for the WHO to declare the coronavirus as a pandemic before implementing precautionary and control measures.
- As of January 23, passengers inbound from China are quarantined. A measure extended to other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan thereafter. February 2 will be the outright ban of these nationals.
- On March 16, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announces the closure of the borders of Mauritius to the countries of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland from Wednesday, March 18 for a period of two weeks.
- On March 19, after the announcement of the first three cases of the Covid-19, the Prime Minister declared a state of national containment from the next day for 14 days. The entire economy is shut down except for essential services and a few grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Sanitary confinement will be tightened three days later and then extended for the first time until April 15, a second time on May 4 and finally a third time on June 1 with a gradual opening of certain sectors of the economy, from 15 May. The Prime Minister justified this extension so that the stabilization of the spread of the virus would not be annihilated by a second wave of the disease.
Mauritius’s success in controlling and stabilizing 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 the 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.
We also note a desire for transparency and continuous communication with daily press conferences of the National Communication Committee of Covid-19 and regular interventions by the Prime Minister even when he was himself in self-isolation. An application, beSafeMoris, has also been launched for continuous information on the situation and the precautions to be taken.
In practice, the experience of health services for diseases such as malaria has greatly helped in monitoring contact tracing of people found to be positive. In addition, the centralization and creation of isolation units for people in need of intensive care has helped to minimize the spread of the virus. A policy also helped by the creation of quarantine centres to accommodate all returnees. It should be noted that there is a good synergy between the government and the private sector, including hotel groups which have made no less than eight hotels available to the government for quarantine purposes.
Finally, it should be added that Rodrigues Island, another part of the Mauritian Republic, located 600 km from Port-Louis, and also a popular tourist destination, recorded no case and that the sanitary confinement only lasted 14 days there.
If no case has been detected for 20 days, vigilance has not been relaxed and tests for the Covid-19 continue for all those who worked during the confinement period, including medical personnel, police, and employees of grocery stores. To date, 87,177 tests of Covid-19 have been performed and 149 people are still in quarantine.