Being in a Zoom meeting with friends, colleagues, comrades from all over Mauritius shows us, live-and-direct, the relentless speed with which Covid spreads – especially in its jet-propelled Delta variant. In one village a husband-and-wife both die of Covid – the wife was, it is true, suffering from cancer. In just one college, one child has lost a mother, another a father. We learn that a member, a nurse, is in a ward receiving Covid positive patients from now on, back to spaceman outfits in the summer heat. Another nurse member, who has done a long stint at the ICU at ENT, has been transferred to lighter work at another hospital for a while. A break from PPE. So, as a society, wherever we look, we are looking danger in the face. The multiple deaths and the hard work for hospital staff both give an idea of the overall picture. And this picture, in turn, must spur us on to action that will slow the spread of the virus.
Which brings us to vaccination. We also learn that some of the vaccine refusers, hesitators and avoiders, are realizing, at long last, that it is time to step up and get the vaccination – some so as to contribute to slowing down the spread, others who need to go places where vaccination is required, and others still out of pure fear of a severe case of the illness. In fact, there have been queues for people for both first doses and boosters. This, in turn, encourages us to continue to reach out to those we know who are refusing the vaccine and, say, offering to accompany them, or whatever it takes to help them help us all. And this section brings us to page 15 of Le Mauricien yesterday, where two articles of the worst kind have been given space: one by a candidate, it seems, of Roshi Bhadain’s Reform Party in 2019, Ismael Nazir, who claims that “les vaccinés (sic) sont un danger potentiel pour la santé de la societé Mauricienne”, what he calls “le massacre” (sic), while, like Trump, that “nebulisation au peroxyde d’hydrogène périodique mais regulière” might work to save those already vaccinated. This man, for reasons unknown, gets regular space provided to him in Le Mauricien over the years. If indeed he is one and the same Ismael Nazir that is a Reform Party Candidate, perhaps Roshi Bhadain will need to dissociate from him. The second article signed Elizier Francois and quoting from the Bible suggests “Let those who are tested positive be vaccinated” (sic). Giving space to such views during a pandemic is like giving a loudspeaker to someone to shout “Fire” in a crowded stadium with locked Exits. It is positively lethal.
At the Zoom meeting, we also learn that all over the country, there have, over the past two days, been less people in public transport, less people in shops and supermarkets, and less people out. This is good. We must remember that it is this, our own actions, that will have been responsible for any lowering in the rate of transmission. We hear that people have learnt, without any recourse to violence or threats, to support a bus conductor when he was evicting someone under the influence who was refusing to wear his mask (he had one). It was more difficult in another bus, when passengers evicted someone who another passenger announced had tested Covid positive at the hospital and was on her way home. We discussed what to do in such cases – and got many ideas. Think about what you would suggest to the Driver and conductor in this case? Tourist hotel workers say guests and staff alike are both very strict in adhering to health safety measures – with the notable exception, we are told, of some rich Mauritians and their families, who are not careful at all.
In some work messes, workers go and eat in shifts of a few at a time – because there they have to remove their masks to eat and drink.
We learn that neighbours all over the place are doing shopping for those in self-isolation, and hanging the supplies up on the person’s gate for them.
All this to say, we must maintain our own voluntary stay-in as best we can. While helping everyone take the decision to get vaccinated. Specific Covid treatment may be on its way by next year but it will not so much replace vaccination as support it. So, do not use it as an excuse not to get vaccinated in the meantime.
for LALIT 17 November, 2021