Yesterday we used Catch-up TV, or TV On Demand, to watch the National Covid Committee’s Saturday morning briefing that we had missed.
It was a second live Zoom press conference – again with some minor technical problems, in that some reporters were hard to hear. On the panel were Health Minister Jagutpal, presiding, and two Government Hospital Doctors, Dr. Lam and Dr. Ip. The content from the government doctors was high quality and empathetic, and their presence once again restored the Health Minister’s own medical practitioner persona.
Dr. Ip said the Covid crisis in the dialysis centre at Souillac fortunately seems to have traversed its very worst days. So, that is a relief for all the patients, families and staff who have been living in anguish.
Dr. Lam gave an excellent overview of vaccines – replying, ansilkan, to the various anti-vaccination tactics. He explained (without accusing any journalists of anything) that it is not the Government “failing to vaccinate” either dialysis staff or patients but the tragic effect of vaccination hesitancy among both staff and patients. (While on the subject of anti-vaccination propaganda, it has taken weeks before the mainstream international media has picked up on how likely you are to get a serious blood clot if you get a bad dose of Covid-19. You are 10 times more likely to get blood clots if you get Covid than if you get vaccinated by the three vaccines they studied, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna. And that is not counting your chances of dying from lack of oxygen, heart failure or kidney failure that actually, at the end of all the torture Covid causes, cause most Covid deaths.
All three Doctors pleaded for the strict maintenance of public health measures – masks properly worn, hands properly washed, windows thrown wide open and social distance respected. All three put heavy emphasis, appropriately, on the immense contribution of hospital workers – who are understaffed, because of having to look after the additional thousands of people in quarantine in hotels, and with staff seconded to all the isolation wards, as well as the Covid Treatment Centres, and Covid Testing Centres. (An pasan, imagine how serious the staff shortages are by now. In LALIT, we have been calling, from before the first wave, throughout it and until now, for more nursing and records staff to be recruited and trained up urgently. The bosses with their megaphones call for nothing but decrease in Government expenditure. “Bonmarse kut ser”, as we say, and death is a high price to pay.)
The main point from the Minister was that the “R” rate, or reproductive rate of the Novel Coronavirus was now well under “1” at this time in the second wave, meaning the spread of the virus is under some degree of control.
In LALIT, we add that we have to wait and see what effect the tens of thousands of school children, who we sent out to mingle (exams being a religion amongst the middle classes that decide such things) will have on the “R” rate. Children will be children – so the rules around masks, etc. can only be “relative”. We will know in 2-3 weeks.
In Brazil and India, Covid-19 has suddenly begun to expand like wild-fire and is threatening to collapse the health services. In many Asian countries so far spared, the epidemic is now taking its toll. So, it is a time of all dangers.
This means it is a time to maintain all public health measures, even to tighten them up – and keep living.
At the same time, we can and must criticize the Government for the ICTA censorship proposals; we can and must denounce the Government for refusing WAPs to opposition MPs; we can and must, perhaps most importantly, denounce the Jugnauth Government for wasting one whole year when it could have forced the Sugar Estates to diversify, say, a third of their land and half their infrastructure into food production and preservation industries; and when Government could have suspended foreign fishing permits in the Mauritian exclusive zone of 2.4 million square kilometres, and forced the hotel bosses to invest half their capital in a new fishing industry. This way the Government could have, and could still, stimulate production, create good jobs for all, ensure food security and get foreign exchange. Instead the MSM lets the capitalists persist in relying on all the old lame ducks, including the doomed sugar cane sector, the ruinous tourism industry, the waning textile industry, and the discredited offshore sector.
So, it is our duty to mobilize to force Government to get jobs created, national food security ensured and foreign exchange stabilized.
But this does not mean we have to oppose government when its public health measures are – with the peoples’ co-operation – working. Nor does it mean we have to work to destroy the universal, free health care system – just so we can criticize Pravind Jugnauth – instead of perfecting it. We do not think that the media engage in this destructive campaign just because they get paid advertisements from insurance companies and private clinics. But, others may think so.