It is the eve of Labour Day, and our last day of a second Covid Lockdown in Mauritius.
And yet, instead of a feeling of pure relief and happiness after seven weeks’ lockdown, we can be pardoned for feeling, at the same time, what with the massive surge of the epidemic in India, a persistent sense of impending doom.
Not only is any suffering anywhere our suffering but, should the epidemic surge again in Mauritius, I am not sure that the social forces of enlightenment will, for a third time, be strong enough to contain Covid by strict public health measures demanded. The quasi totality of the working class, at great cost to itself, and because of its lived experience of eradicating malaria, maintained the measures that have worked against two successive waves of Covid. But now, the combined forces of the profit-minded private sector bosses led by the tourism bosses and all the anti-government parties so desperate to attack the Jugnauth Government that they would prefer a deadly third wave, for which they can then blame him – Armageddon or no – have continued to strengthen. Will the working class continue to lead in the “culture of prevention”, the culture of taking up vaccination, and in the constant support for the health care sector and its workers that have prevented Mauritius facing the same fate that the USA faced and that Brazil and India now face? That is perhaps the first question for this 2021 Labour Day.
And it is today that the WTO’s sub-committee on the private ownership of the rights to the Covid vaccines, will decide, belatedly or not at all, to lift the monopoly protection of so-called “intellectual property rights” on life-saving vaccines. The Mauritian State has taken part, together with South Africa and India, in calling for this “waiver”. But, as usual, the MSM does not see the importance of mobilizing people behind its stand. Yet it is mobilization that world-wide will isolate the greedy corporations, and put the US, UK and EU countries’ leaders’ backs to the wall.
In truth, there has been the systematic sabotage of world-wide co-operation on vaccines from very early on, led by then US President Trump: but it was, of course, not just him. The sabotage is led by the twin pincers of greedy capitalist pharmaceutical companies and the impervious-to-human-suffering ruling classes of the imperialist countries that rake in the monopoly profits of big pharmaceutical companies. Their media companies, as usual, in general perpetuate the concept that life in, say, the USA is more “valuable” than elsewhere – even despite the facts. The highest number 589,207 have died in the US which makes it 17th highest by deaths-per-million inhabitants.
Even though it is in the interests of the imperialist ruling class (and each capitalist’s own family) to ensure vaccines are equitably rolled out, they cannot do it. What should have happened is all health workers and others in the interface between the ill and their care, should have, world-wide, been vaccinated. Then the vulnerable world-wide. The prevention of spread ought to have been co-ordinated internationally. The quicker we all contain Covid – by prevention and vaccination – the less variants will develop, including those that may not be covered by the vaccines.
So, now, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, not knowing how it will unfurl. But, in Mauritius we can contain it again, if we work at it. On Rodrigues island, it is absent. On Agalega, too. Hats off! In many areas in Mauritius, the “red zone tactic” having worked, the virus has been completely contained. And as we end this second wave, we need to take our hats off to the maturity of an individual family, the Gunga family in Forest-Side. They made the initial mistake of holding a religious ceremony when this was a known risk and against public health measures, and the gathering, in turn, caused a large Covid cluster. And then, one of the heads of the Gunga household, bravely came forward on Radio. He gave his name and appealed to everyone present as his guest for the prayers to come forward for testing and for quarantine. This act of unselfish enlightenment, this openness on his part, this generous ability to come forward after an error of judgment, then, in turn, enabled the cluster to be contained. So, the Gunga family can be proud to have one of the heroes of the epidemic as one of theirs. His action remains a beacon for us all in the future. And our condolences to the Gunga family for their losses. Imran Gunga aged 56 died – of pre-existing cancer – after surviving Covid, while Ramjan Gunga, 76, died of Covid (relying on press reports, for these health details.)
So, today, in sad times, I am signing off on my lockdown blog. I will miss you all, my readers. And thank you for all the feedback – via calls, SMSs, emails – that kept me going. And I will miss my copy-editors and translators, too. Writing this, the second lockdown blog, has been hard. But, it has been a second labour of love.
I hope this turns out to have been the “second and last lockdown blog”. Our fate is in our hands. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves.” We collectively, we ourselves, can prevent the spread, and once again, should the virus begins to spread, contain it. And since it is May Day, let’s finish the quotation, to give it its original “class” meaning. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Let us do away with classes. And let’s do it through class struggle politics.
And I end with an invitation: Tomorrow Saturday 1 May, at 9:30 am for a little more than an hour, you can tune in to a LALIT meeting on either YouTube or Facebook, at LalitMauritius.
And I say “till we meet again”, and wish a happy Labour Day to all our readers!