BY DAYO ADESULU
His Excellency Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, the President of the Republic of Mauritius met Dr Laurent Musango, the WHO Representative in Mauritius on 17 June 2021 to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination programme in the country. It was an opportunity for the WHO to update the President on the country’s latest Situation Report and how WHO is supporting the country to fight the pandemic.
Dr L. Musango informed the President that a total number of 1,105 local cases have been confirmed since the second wave, with a first case registered on 5 March 2021. The country was COVID-safe for several weeks due to the measures taken by the Government of Mauritius to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 said the WHO Representative.
As at 17 June 2021, 1773 cumulative tested confirmed cases have been registered in Mauritius, out of which 1356 cases have been successfully treated, representing a recovery rate of 76.5%. Out of the total cases registered in the country, 25.3% are imported while 74.7% are local transmission. Mauritius has registered a total of eighteen deaths due to COVID-19 as of 16 June 2021; eight of them were registered in 2021 during wave 2.
Once, the country receives more doses of vaccines, it will be able to vaccinate at least 60% of its population
The President inquired about the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the country to attain herd immunity and when exactly can this happen to allow for safe re-opening of the country’s borders. Dr L. Musango said that the stock of vaccines that is already available in the country will allow for 42% of the population to be vaccinated. WHO is expecting to receive more doses of vaccines following bilateral negotiations with China, India and Russia as well as from the COVAX facility indicated Dr L. Musango. Once, the country receives more doses of vaccines, it will be able to vaccinate at least 60% of its population.
The WHO Representative in Mauritius explained that as of 14 June 2021, 413,473 people have already received the first dose of vaccine against COVID-19, representing 32.7% of the population while 219,084 people have received their second dose, that is 17.3% of the population. Dr L. Musango emphasized that the country has so far succeeded in controlling and preventing COVID-19 through the implementation of the WHO advice and guidelines.
Mauritius kicked off its national vaccination programme on 26 January 2021 with the vaccination of the frontliners, namely health workers, supermarket and transport employees, hotel employees as well as people living with co-morbidities. Currently, teachers and other employees from the education sector are being vaccinated prior to schools reopening in early July 2021. A special slot is being dedicated to the elderly persons in all five vaccination centres across the island to allow this vulnerable group of the population to get vaccinated without any hurdle.
The country has been implementing the ‘Isolate, Test and Treat’ strategies as recommended by WHO since the start of the outbreak in March 2020. With the support of the private sector, the Government of Mauritius has been able to quarantine a significant number of people who tested positive or who have been in close contact with a positive case; these include both residents and stranded passengers coming into the country. As of 16 June 2021, 3,183 persons were in quarantine including 763 passengers, 2,329 residents who had contact with a confirmed case and 91 health personnel who have been working with COVID-19 cases. In addition, the daily testing capacity of the country has improved significantly from some 200 tests daily in March 2020 to around 1500 tests daily in 2021. The country’s experience in controlling and preventing COVID-19 during wave 1 and the constant updating of the treatment protocols based on new scientific evidence is helping in improving the treatment of COVID-19 patients in Mauritius.
Since the Pandemic of COVID-19 started, His Excellency Mr P. Roopun has been meeting the WHO Representative every six months, and this was the third meeting that took place to discuss important issues related to health and WHO support to the country.