By Esther Nakkazi
Mauritius, which hosts over 1.3 million tourists annually and has a relatively aging population with a high percentage of diabetes and cardiovascular morbidity, is heralded as one of the most efficient in the world as it contained, in six weeks, the COVID-19 virus which reached their shores on the 18th of March.
Mauritius was then scored a perfect 100 on the Oxford University Stringency Index that tracks government policy and action with regard to COVID-19.
“Our response has been heralded as one of the most efficient in the world as we managed to contain, in a matter of six weeks,” Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius shared with participants at the fifth edition of Qatar Foundation’sWorld Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) how the small but connected island nation of Mauritius succeeded in containing the virus.
Despite its limited resources, Jugnauth said Mauritius has pre-ordered vaccines, under the COVAX initiative, for 20 percent of the population, focused on vulnerable and front-line staff. He commended the World Health Organization (WHO) for coordinating global efforts, in collaboration with GAVI, to develop a vaccine, through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility.
Mauritius’ success rested on a multi-layered response that featured the implementation of strict protocols with regard to sanitary measures at entry points and a very strict policy of PCR testing, quarantine, isolation, and treatment as part of the government’s containment strategy, the prime minister explained.
Nevertheless, the unprecedented scope and magnitude of the pandemic continued to pose challenges for Mauritius, the prime minister added, referring to the impact of the pandemic on the island’s economy “with the drying up of international visitor numbers, in terms of both business and tourism.”
To mitigate this inevitable slowdown, the Mauritius government is providing significant economic, income, and job support to affected sectors of the economy to ensure that the country weathers these challenging times.
“As a centerpiece of our own recovery policy, my Government is committed to injecting significant national resources which will total almost 30% of the country’s GDP, to support and build the economic recovery of Mauritius,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also laid bare the inequalities that exist among nations, the prime minister emphasized, urging fair and equal access to safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
“Such an access is key to change the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts, move toward a resilient recovery,” he said, calling for global leadership and coordinated response to ensure that any approved vaccine is distributed equitably.