On day two, yesterday 21 March, there was the first death from Coronavirus disease in Mauritius. The patient had come back from Belgium, fallen ill, had a first test that was negative, then got sicker and a second test was done, but he died before the result. There are now 17 cases tested positive.
The quiet of the little street where we live in Bambous is restful, but slightly eerie. There are hardly any motorbikes, vans or cars. I continued my round of visiting neighbours – keeping a two-metre distance – and phoned friends, colleagues and family, just to check in. By phone, I give moral support and lend an ear to essential service worker friends, a nurse and a bus conductor. I ask about their schedules. At the hospital, in all the “other wards” and spaces, there is an “akalmi”, between the full-up routine cases, and the expected rise in Coronavirus Disease cases. Their schedules have been altered, seamlessly, and transport back-up assured. The bus workers are doing half the number of trips. My friend says lots of older people, curiously, were travelling yesterday. I reckon maybe with free transport, either they are the ones to do errands, maybe? Or they have just got used to moving around a lot and enjoy it as freedom of movement, thus needing a couple of days to break the habit?
I had to go out in the car to pick up my laptop from LALIT so I can work at home and so on the way, I can report, there was the odd car here and there and the odd three-person queue for vegetables or at the pharmacy. A few people were walking around somewhat aimlessly. One or two seemed to be, as usual, waiting for their daily delivery of something very urgently needed by them.
Some people are wearing masks, others have their faces exposed, some sort bandanas, and women have their orni covering their mouth as if they are in the presence of an important older relative. I encountered two buses, both with about five passengers, and both with bus-drivers wearing masks. A third bus was broken down, and the conductor was phoning to report it. There was an SMF “blinde” parked at the closed Co-op store when I went out but they were gone when I was on my way back. There were also benign-looking potential police checks at a Cite La Ferme bus stop and at a layby between Canot and Gros Cailloux.
To contact LALIT, it is probably easier to phone of SMS someone you know. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org , but remember we only check the mail erratically when we go to feed LALIT’s dog, Larrki. You can also comment on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/LalitMauritius
So, we all get to watch TV.
The situation in Italy is of great concern, for the people of North Italy in particular. And it gives an idea of where we might all be in some 3 or 4 weeks.
On a more political level, watching CNN or the BBC when President Trump talks such rubbish in his press conferences would be amusing if it were not so painful to listen to. He also tends to lash out at any journalist the minute he feels guilty about the effects of his “denial” and “fake news” phase, or feels shame at his reckless promotion of some private sector pharmaceutical miracle having been exposed. It is quite hard to quantify where the US, and even the world would be, had he not been around to delay and confuse issues, and promote capitalists by brand name. Knowing the way the malaria drug he is vaunting is so full of side-effects (the only thing that’s good about it is it’s better than getting malaria), he is being as irresponsible as a child. In any case, its efficacy has not yet been proven, though there are trials already going on in China, UK, Spain and the USA, according to the BBC.
It really is a time to ponder over how little democracy there is in the economy. Even as capitalists make available their hotels in Mauritius for people in quarantine to be housed, as a thousand Mauritians return in special flights from abroad, so we ask ourselves how it is that they, these bosses, have this power in their hands – and not us, the people. And though we heard that the big land owners met Ministers to discuss allocating land for food production, we have not, as far as I know, got any public announcement of their plans. It is essential to inform people that food supplies will be available in the long haul. And to assure people that, from now on, the State will always assure food security for all.
A friend from a nearby street just popped by on foot, called from the gate, and left a cob of maize seeds he has for us to plant. If he is so forward-looking, why can’t the Prime Minister come on TV and tell his plan for food security on a nation-wide scale.
for LALIT, a personal view.