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Day 27 – Mauritius Back-Up Strategy and Trump Madness and Cruelty

16.04.2020

Yesterday, I wrote about the Mauritian State’s two-pronged strategy against the Corona Virus: Trace-Test-Isolate and Lockdown-Distancing-Masks-Hygiene. We in LALIT agree with the approach of the State, despite the Regime being what it is and despite the State not always being able to convince people. 


 Today we are going to look at two backup parts of the Government strategy that make the plan as airtight as the figures show it to be, so far. Which, taken together, shows why we are still now calling on everyone to continue the staying home as much as possible, the physical distancing and the hand-washing, while avoiding touching our faces.


 Since yesterday’s reassuring absence of any new cases of Covid 19, there has been another day with no new cases. 


 So, we need to stay the course. And we need to press on with the demands for food security and job creation, as we get to the “end of the beginning” part of the epidemic. Rodrigues and Agalega are out of lockdown today. Just schools will remain closed for a while. We assume that the virus was kept out of Rodrigues and Agalega altogether. 


 Comparing Fever-Rates with Previous Years


The back-up for the Government’s strategy goes like this: Every year for many years, Mauritius has kept data of how many cases of fever-related illness come into the hospital system, month by month. So, the Health Ministry knows what “normal” is. 


 So, this year with the Coronavirus epidemic, too, all those who have a fever get tested. 


 For the past few days, there are no new cases at all, including from this group who attend the new so-called “fever clinics” in each hospital. 


 This year, compared with the same period as last year, there is a decrease in the number of people attending hospital for “fever”. (This is probably because of social distancing affecting other viral infections.) This is an important back-up check. It means that the epidemic of Covid-19 has not become generalized (as yet, anyway) in society.


 It serves another function. It is a statistical way, an epidemiological way, of checking on the reliability of the Covid-19 tests. If this year has seen no increase in the sheer number of cases of fever, it suggests that the tests for Covid-19 are not grossly wrong, are not giving false negative results. 


 And en passant, this year, the fact that separate “fever clinics” were set up in each hospital, with a separate outdoor system to get there, meant that while the Government keeps check easily, it also keeps patients from getting or giving the viral infection to others in the hospitals. 


 The Mauritian Health Care deciders are clearly getting very good, useful and reliable guidance from the local World Health Organization representative.


 Testing Health Care Staff


Secondly, there is a constant check on the health of those in the health care system. For example, nurses and doctors who have been working at wards where people do a stint of so many days, or a couple of weeks, and are then tested and physically isolated, remaining in quarantine, then being tested. Doctors are lodged in the hotels that used to lodge incoming passengers, who were in quarantine until they went home (except for those who tested positive who are moved to hospital care). Most nurses go into self-quarantine at home, after a stint in the Coronavirus sector. 


 Workers’ Control 


The health system has allowed individual units to work out their own systems, by means of a decentralized consensus. Friends in the system tell us it is working well where they are. So, a kind of workers’ control has come into being. This seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago.


 Trump the Cruel, Trump the Mad


Meanwhile, just as the epidemic is moving into the less developed world – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia as well as into African countries and Latin American countries, what does the President of the USA, Donald Trump announce? That he intends (though he does not even have the power to do so, Congress has that power) to annul US contributions to the World Health Organization. Trump has got more and more cornered in the U.S.A. for his criminal negligence in denying the epidemic, down-playing it, saying it was a hoax, and doing nothing to prevent it (other than close his borders to China then Europe, causing US citizens to pour into the USA without proper preparations to receive them, thus causing them to spread the illness to all the big cities where airports were open). It was only in mid-March that Trump began to act. This, although China’s health authorities informed the US health authorities on 3 January. 


Trump had stopped giving White House briefings a few years ago, when journalists kept cornering him and he kept lashing out. Then, as the epidemic took hold in the USA, first State Governors like Andrew Cuomo, then even Basketball teams, Mayors of cities, sports federations, all began to cancel events and close down restaurants and bars, nightclubs and concerts, and it was only then that Trump, feeling his power slipping away from him, took matters into his own hands. When the Republican-controlled Senate tried to block Democrat-controlled House of Representative laws to help out working class people and small businesses, at first the Senate Republicans blocked the laws, but then had to cede when Republicans fell into a minority with five of their Republican Senators off with Corona virus. 


 So, Trump was in dire straits. Journalists are, every day, exposing his criminal negligence. He is now, once again, just lashing out.


 But, to hear him try to change the subject from the exposure of all his errors, omissions and gross criminal negligence, by announcing de-funding of the WHO is totally beyond the pale. 


 Imagine, as the epidemic strikes in the poorest countries in the world, the countries that rely on WHO assistance to keep any semblance of a health care system in the face of this epidemic, the USA announcing, via its President, that it will cut its contributions? It is truly both mad and evil.


 Lindsey Collen   


for LALIT, a personal view.