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2nd Lockdown - Day Eighteen - On the Edge of the Precipice

27.03.2021

There comes a point in the spread of an epidemic when exponential figures start to explode, and there comes another point where health services are suddenly too stressed to cope. Today, we have possibly reached both points at the same time: 18 cases detected in yet another cluster, enough to provoke the temporary closure of the Souillac Hospital. At the same time, the Mauritian Covid patient transferred from Madagascar has passed away after a heart attack. And three other patients are very ill from Covid. So, it’s time for a Class Four warning in the second wave of the epidemic here.


And Health Minister Jagutpal seems, at the same time, to be informing us that the Government has adopted the very strategy that has led to most havoc in countries that adopted it – on health and on the economy – the USA and France being prime examples. No longer putting health first. If you don’t put health first, you risk both the epidemic and worse economic woe. And the tragedy is that Mauritius, with vaccinations going as fast as the supplies allow, and armed with our general cultural understanding of public health measures, will soon have the cover necessary to be over the worst of the epidemic. And the Government seems to be giving up on strict measures – just a month or two too early. That would be a grave mistake.


So, if we find that the Government is acting in ways that will not prevent the epidemic from expanding fast and will not prevent the health services from going shaky, it is up to us, the people. We all have to get on the phone to all our contacts and spread the message ourselves, repetitive as it may seem: 


- Co-operate really fully and speedily with contact-tracers and Covid testing facilities.


- Get your vaccination at the earliest possible date.


- Warn people against the wiles of anti-vaccine propaganda, and of the rabid nature of the French version of anti-vaccine conspiracy theories that influence many Mauritians via social media links with family in France. 


- Wear your mask thoroughly, and explain to others that we all must, so as to protect us all. This illness is spread by us breathing, talking, coughing, chanting, shouting, sneezing, singing near each other. It is also spread by touching a surface or an object that someone else has fairly recently inadvertently breathed, talked, coughed, chanted, sneezed or sung upon. So, if we all wear masks, the virus is kept from getting too far when any one of us (who unknowingly) breathes, talks, coughs, chants, shouts, sneezes, sings near someone else. The virus travels in invisible droplets on our breath, and in aerosol (even smaller) particles, too.


- Keep windows open at home, in the bus, at work – maximum possible – to blow away any droplets or aerosol particles.


- Stay home, and socially distanced, maximum possible – to contain the virus geographically.


- Remember to soap up and wash your hands five or six times a day for a good minute, and before and after leaving your house, or work place – to protect you from surfaces and objects you have touched, just as it protects others from surfaces you have touched. At work, sanitizer is perhaps easier.


And so, in lockdown, life goes on. Those with WAPs go out to work, as if on a Pass. Those whose shopping day it is, go out, again, on a Pass. We must be ready, the minute the epidemic is over, to get all these repressive measures, necessary as many are during an epidemic, lifted once it’s over. And to use lessons of the crisis to expand our demands. We now know, for example, that Governments can invent money and spend it. Before this, they and bourgeois economists made everyone believe the lie that you can’t do this. It all depends what you spend it on. President Biden, in the heartland of capitalist ideology, has invented two trillion dollars – a lot of it going to poor and working people who spend it all and stimulate the economy there, creating jobs – and is about to get a massive infrastructure bill passed for another similar sum which will also create jobs. Here, new productive industries need to be set up and invested in fast: we propose that they are based on a health food production industry – around agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry, with their concomitant processing plants. There has been one whole year to get the sugar cane and hotel bosses to invest in this. Will they do it? 


Meanwhile, Ram and I had to get up in the dark, and dress up in more than ordinary face masks but in full bee-keeper gear, and then play-act being the intrepid hornet-nest up-setters. Yes, after Ram had been strung twice and me once, we decided that this wasp nest was just too near our bedroom window to leave to nature, so we got up before the wasps got up for guard duty – that’s the secret – and prepared our smoking-out stick, set it alight, and then smoked them out and brought down their nest. And just as we controlled them by understanding their habits, so we, all together, will have to contain the epidemic by understanding how the virus spreads in society and then stopping the spread.


If the Government can’t do it, we can. That’s the attitude.


Lindsey Collen