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Blog 7 – On Slightly Good News in Times of the Plague

24.11.2021

I was going to skip writing the blog today – I am busy finalizing my article for the next REVI LALIT’s deadline, so I really haven’t got much time – but I can’t help sharing two bits of goodish news plus one reality check. 


First, after months of not showing up for the booster doses of the Covid vaccine being offered, and for hesitators not stepping up at all for first doses (in the case of some 90,000 people), suddenly people have begun to flock to the vaccination centres in literal crowds. Luckily waiting facilities are mainly in the open air. 


The numbers were so huge on Monday and Tuesday, the waiting so long, that the Health Ministry announced yesterday that, from today Wednesday till Friday, people should turn up by letter of the alphabet in all the decentralized centres. Surnames starting A-F today, G-N tomorrow, and O-Z on Friday, each day 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. And a new centre, the MGI, seems to have been added to the list. 


This change in people’s up-take is due probably to a few things coinciding: the number of hospitalized patients and deaths has been rising so fast that hesitant people were won over by the grim reality, even The Grim Reaper, himself. Then, following Opposition Leader Xavier Duval’s campaign against Sinopharm boosters, the shift to Johnson & Johnson boosters has drawn those who fell for Duval’s harmful campaign. And then, maybe part in response to LALIT’s call on all opposition political parties, other organizations and the Press/radio to stop prevaricating or worse, and immediately to call loud and clear for people to go get vaccinated, we have in fact seen many mainstream organizations step up. This last reason then stems the tide of the slightly childish “anti-government” refusers that have been nurtured on irresponsible statements made, for example, by Opposition Leader in the National Assembly. If you don’t believe us about the dangerous claptrap he was spouting in Parliament, or don’t understand my anger at it, please go and read Hansard for Tuesday 9 November (Just google “Mauritius Hansard” and then go to 2021, then to 9 Nov). He is truly irresponsible. His links to two big pharmaceutical importers make his campaign even more dubious – what on earth is his interest in turning people against vaccination? And following LALIT’s call, a number of organizations have come up with lists of what they propose for the Covid epidemic – from Navin Ramgoolam’s Labour Party to Rezistans. LALIT has, as you know, throughout the pandemic come up with unified “Common declarations” and “Collective demands” on Government – some of which have been taken up, others obviously not. The important thing is to put ideas up for rational discussion.


Second good news, we hear from health workers in LALIT who work there that at both Jeetoo and Candos the flu clinics – which are like a monitor of future hospitalizations and deaths in the next 2-5 weeks – were much less busy yesterday. This is good news. (Though of course one zirondel does not signify “spring is here”.) This is probably the direct result, two weeks later, of the closing of schools, and our generally good behavior, as a whole people, in relation to all the preventive health guidelines. 


This is, of course, not a reason to slow down vaccination take-up, nor to stop wearing our masks properly, nor to stop good social distancing, nor to stop keeping windows wide open, washing hands and so on. Nor is it a reason to stop staying home maximum possible, not just yet. We, for example, are encouraging people to do shopping only on their alphabet days – without the government even co-ordinating it. What we do, our ways of acting after understanding what a pandemic is, is what helps us most.


And we sign off with a “reality check” for those in the elite who blame the Health Minister as the “cause” of the suffering from the pandemic, and who find his countryside accent so jarring to their superior ears (an editorialist even referring to him with colonial disdain as speaking “baragouin”), it is worth them dropping their navel-gazing and comparing the queues in Germany and Austria with those at Plaza and Stad Germain Comarmond. Everywhere – once the virus is not contained as it was here for so many months – there is a constant recurring struggle to deal with this unprecedented health emergency that rises again to threaten the health care services. The German Health Minister was so exasperated he issued a dire warning: By early next year, he said, there will be only three kinds of people left: the vaccinated, those recovered from Covid, and the dead. 


Lindsey Collen


for LALIT