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Day 46 – On Covid-19 Cases and Nut Cases


By Sunday 26 April, the Republic of Mauritius had had, in all, 332 cases tested positive for Coronavirus disease. This number has stayed the same since then until today, as I write. 

That means a total of eight days in a row with no new cases at all. If that holds today, it will be nine days. (I must mention in case people are getting confused that there was a glitch in the figures between the 26 April and today. On 27 April two non-cases were added by the Government in its daily briefings and then subtracted again two days later on 29 April. This was due apparently to a mis-reading of data that was negative as “positive” on the very first day of the implementation of the new mass rapid tests from South Korea, a mis-reading exposed by confirmation ordinary PCR tests.)

Anyway, eight days with no new cases is no mean feat. For six days there have been no new deaths either, the figure having stayed at 10. And it is to the credit of all Mauritians that they have understood, and thus participated in, the public health measures that have caused this drastic “flattening of the curve”, so far. It has meant massive adherence by the people to the guidelines from the public health doctors to wash hands, keep social distance, wear masks, “quarantine” clothing and acquired groceries, shop in turn by alphabet and so on. The success (I always have to add “so far”) is also due to the long tradition since the eradication of malaria in the early 1950s, and thus easy extension, of “trace-test-isolate” (and “test-trace-isolate”) in Mauritius. What is to the credit of the State and the Government is, first, that it acted in time, with the lockdown, and second that it hospitalized all people who tested positive and quarantined all who were at risk, including hospital staff, many of them in empty hotels. The way the State acted, and people en masse  acted, gave the health workers the time and space to care for the hundreds of positive cases. 

By contrast, the state apparatuses in Italy, Spain, France, the USA and UK were all left running after the virus when it was already escaped into the entire population in significant areas, wildly out of control, and without sufficient existing “trace-and-test” infrastructures, and thus without proper quarantine or isolation measures possible. 

 There are childish arguments put out by nut cases, too. These are mainly on the extreme right. They accuse epidemiologists of projecting wrongly that there would be high numbers of cases and of deaths. But, it was those making the accusation who are “wrong”. The epidemiologists’ projections were “right”, and not only “right”, but they were, and are, mathematical projections on known data. But data exists in “time”, and we, as members of human society, during that “time”, changed our ways, and thus created a new reality, and new data, where there are less cases of Covid-19 than projected earlier. Humans can change what would have been and they can do this by means of collective action on the basis of a program for action.

It is this capacity to change things that is at the essence of democratic politics. We can change society. But we need to act together. We need, as we go along, to organize sufficiently to be able to constantly “agree” on the program that is guiding our actions.

The difference between the Jugnauth Government’s handling of the epidemic and proper democratic politics, is that the daily briefings gave instructions rather than explanations, and supplied only the sparsest explanation – lucky there was Dr. Gujadhur – and even relied on the police to implement the program. A proper democratic movement for political change relies on mass democratic organization and action on an agreed program. 

Anyway, the right-wing world-wide is organizing fast. In another blog I’ll go into their two main tactics. But meanwhile watch out for them: 

-- They shoot the messenger (attack epidemiologists and other scientists for “wrong” projections). 

-- They play the blame game (shift blame from themselves on to China).

I suppose they haven’t much else to do. Especially Trump. He has an election looming this year and an economy in disaster. He is desperate. So bear that in mind, too.


Lindsey Collen

for LALIT, a personal view.