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Covid-19: On the 9th day of Lockdown, it has become clear what is important

29.03.2020

- We all need to stay away from each other as much as possible, preferably at home. 


- Essential workers, who cannot stay home, need to be given maximum State and people’s support, physical in terms of equipment and moral in terms of best possible work conditions and consideration.


- Everyone in the country needs not only to get basic food but to be reassured that we will all get basic food. Cooking gas supplies, always a bit fickle, need to be made rational and reassuring for all. Everyone must be assured a water supply.


- While people on the Social Register of Mauritius will have received home-delivered food packs by the end of today (according to Government and confirmed by our contacts in many regions), and while pensioners, employees of big firms and of the State will be assured revenue at the end of the month, many self-employed and those employed by small enterprises find themselves in a precarious position. This means Government has to ensure revenue for each family for the duration of the lockdown. Alternatively, if the logistics are possible with the help of village councils and municipal ward elected members, food packs delivered to every house, as proposed by Sanjay Jagatsingh.


- The Government must propose a new social contract, so that we all have an interest for our shared future, in the discipline that is necessary now: so that, for example, we all work towards keeping “some airspace” between us to prevent the virus getting a chance to perpetuate itself, so that we support all essential workers, so that all essential workers know that they serve us all, and so that we all learn to share what we have got. In other words, to control the epidemic, we need to open up the vista of a better future for us all.  


Summary of the medical situation


There have been 102 cases of Coronavirus Disease in Mauritius, and two deaths. The deaths are of people in their fifties. Dr. Gujadhur gives good updates at 6 p.m.


So, all the 100 other patients are in the Souillac Hospital, which has been transformed into the first site for treating those with Covid 19 and as it has filled up, patients are being placed in other specially designated hospitals. Unlike many other countries, to begin with at least, the State is admitting all cases tested positive. This way, I guess, they assure total quarantine. Which is useful. With Souillac being full, new cases will now be admitted to the big new ENT hospital, which has been fitted out for Coronavirus cases. Other hospitals are in the queue for transformation to Coronavirus beds, and there are, we hear, negotiations with private clinics to back up on non-coronavirus illnesses or procedures.  In Rodrigues, there is one ward for observing patients who are being tested. Results are, we believe, transported by Dornier. 


So, of the 102 cases, 44 were “imported”, so to speak. They were people coming back from, or visitors from, mainly Europe. The others have been found by contact-tracing (then testing) around the one or two people, who were not spotted when they came into the country from abroad, and were thus not quarantined before falling ill, by which time they had met a lot of people. Two had met a large number of people from all over the country, so the contact-tracing (and testing) has picked up people from literally all districts, and is still going on. So far, this means there is a high chance of picking up people before they fall in, as well as the so-called “invisible” cases, i.e. people who test positive and can spread the disease but who have no symptoms. Once again, it is worth putting emphasis on the fine public health work done by contact-tracers. This work of contact-tracing has been constant in Mauritius – over the course of 70 years – since the elimination of malaria, so this may prove to be important, if the epidemic is contained.


Meanwhile at home ...


So, we all have a “meanwhile at home” reality. Here is ours.


Meanwhile in our street in Bambous, there are two beautiful dogs, a mom and son team, who are fed by a number of households, including ours, and who have no housing problem because they sleep on the verandahs of different houses or under different vehicles, as they please depending on the weather. They, the two dogs, thus think they are in charge of the whole road, not just any one yard. Anyway, with the curfew and total lockdown, and with our street being able, for some reason, to be very disciplined, the dogs have become accustomed to the silence. Nothing but bird calls. The two dogs now believe that traffic is not welcome any longer in this neck of the woods. They object. They bark at any odd vehicle that may hazard to pass, or even at unsuspecting pedestrians.


International Up-date


The USA is now the country with the most-ever cases, and the number rising fast. Although we must remember that the USA is now, at long last, catching up with other countries – even with Mauritius – and doing testing. So, testing of course makes numbers rise. Only tomorrow will the USA have (or so they say) a quick test, like the ones already used in South Korea and other places for weeks.  


It is always interesting to follow the USA for a couple of reasons: First, it is interesting that commentators on mainstream US media are often ignorant about, and not so interested in, the rest of the world, and us knowing this, then helps us understand how parochial so many people in the USA are. (Let alone Fox News, the most popular TV which has a right-wing political agenda, and which is positively against other countries most of the time.) Second, it is mind-boggling to see a major country like the USA with the most powerful military in the world, led by someone who bungles along as Donald Trump does. Yesterday he announced he had spoken to New York State Governor Cuomo (who gives a fine one-hour press conference every day – at around 7pm Mauritian time – covered by CNN, if you are interested) about setting up a quarantine for NY State and two other States (It sounded like Trump wants to build another wall!). Cuomo said he had discussed no such thing, that he didn’t understand what Trump meant, and if he took a guess at what Trump meant, he didn’t like the sound of it. Then Trump tweeted in the night: “On the recommendation of the White House CoronaVirus Task Force, and upon consultation with the Governor’s [sic] of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, I have asked the CDC to issue a strong Travel Advisory, to be administered by the Governors, in consultation with the... ....Federal Government. A quarantine will not be necessary.” But the travel restrictions are already in place. So, the second part of the tweet is merely a Trump face-saving device while he abandoned his previous position. 


With Italy and Spain having more deaths than China where the epidemic began, we have an idea of just how fast the epidemic spreads and how hard it is to contain even in highly developed countries.


 


Lindsey Collen, for LALIT,


a Personal View