Last night, approximately around 10 p.m, the Prime Minister announced 3 cases of Coronavirus in Mauritius. COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, is something that we need to inevitably address today.
All passengers arriving in Mauritius before 10 a.m. on the 19th of March will be put into quarantine. After that time, no passenger whether they are Citizens of Mauritius or any other country will be authorised to enter the island in the next two weeks.
All nurseries, schools or universities, whether public or private will be closed on the 19th of March until further notice from the Ministry of Education.
Can we prevent the virus from spreading in Mauritius?
Yes we definitely can! Even though the situation is well beyond our control and there have not yet been any cure to the deadly Covid-19, we still can work collectively with the right approach to help overcome the current situation.
While the government of Mauritius and the entire team of the Ministry of Health are taking effective measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading in Mauritius, we will take a deeper look at the virus, how it spreads and how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.
What exactly is the coronavirus?
The coronavirus is named after the crown-like structure the virus-cell possesses when viewed from the lens of an electron microscope. It is part of a large family of pre-existing viruses, extremely common in animals. These strains of viruses often cause cold-like symptoms which can sometimes develop into more serious and life-threatening health issues (pneumonia and bronchitis).
In some rare cases, these coronaviruses can evolve from affecting only animals to starting to affect humans too, as can be seen in the previous cases of coronavirus in humans, the MERS and SARS viruses. The latest pandemic-causing virus is being coined the term of ‘novel virus’, meaning a new virus which has been discovered by scientists for the first time.
By the 17th March 2020, the virus has already been caught by 182, 204 people of which 78 340 have successfully recovered but 7139 people have unfortunately passed away.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The best way of protecting not only yourself but also the hundreds of different people (friends, families, colleagues, relatives) surrounding you, is to be aware of the symptoms of the virus and to react proactively to them.
Patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 claim similar symptoms to that of respiratory illness, a strong or mild fever, cough and sometimes even difficulty in breathing. People with underlying diseases or those developing a complication due to the virus have also been reported to suffer from pneumonia. According to experts, these symptoms take typically 5 days to appear after receiving the virus but cases have also shown surfacing of said symptoms between 2 to 14 days after infection.
If you ever find yourself experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, you are strongly advised to self isolate yourself immediately and contact health officials to await your recommended next moves. Doing so helps prevent the spread of the disease if ever you are indeed infected.
Emergency phone numbers
Nevertheless, if you do begin to develop emergency warning signs, such as chest pain, disorientation, fainting, confusion, the blue tint of lips or face or inability to breathe, you need to get professional health care as early as possible.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones?
Experts continue to stress on a single piece of advice of paramount importance. Limit exposure. Avoid going into areas that are packed with people, overcrowded and where the space between you and someone else is less than 2 metres. Moreover, pay particular attention to stay far from anyone showing even a hint of the symptoms mentioned above.
There are also things you can do on your own to protect yourself and others from this virus. Wash your hands as often as possible with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds and ensure that every inch of your palm, as well as the back of your hand, has thoroughly been soaped and rinsed, without forgetting the area between the fingers and under the nails.
If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do the job, but to a less safe extent. At all costs, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth while you are out in public. If you ever need to cough, cover it by means of a cloth, since the virus cannot survive long on soft surfaces. Here is a video on how to wash your hands:
Another important advice is to stay at home if you are feeling sick. It might not be the corona, but no one is currently in a position to take the chance. Avoid crowds and try to thoroughly disinfect any surfaces you touch. A single person stepping back can potentially prevent the sickness and death of thousands of others.
How to stay safe from the virus?
The best way is to stay at home and keep outside interactions to a minimum. It would also be wise to prepare for the eventuality that you will end up indoors for a good chunk of the weeks to follow.
For those suffering from illnesses which require vital intake of medicine, it is time to stock up on these medicines, to have enough of them for a period ranging from 2 weeks to a month. The Mauritian government is taking steps to ensure that everyone is able to get their hands on essential medicine and necessities during these tough times.
Food and other day-to-day amenities is another aspect you need to bear in mind. Ensure that you are stocked up enough to be able to live indoors for at least a month without having to go out again for groceries.
Nonetheless, do not give in to panic and get onto a shopping frenzy, emptying every shelf of your closest supermarket from all the life-essential articles they contain. Others, who are more at risk of suffering greatly from this disease, might also need the same things as you. It is only by thinking about everyone else that we stand a chance of defeating the march of COVID-19.
Who is more at risk?
The risk of contracting the disease is indifferent to age and gender. However, the older a person is, the more severely he will be affected by the disease, according to experts. Starting from the age of 60, the death rate due to the virus increases significantly and continues to increase the higher the age. Especially those suffering from other underlying diseases, such as heart conditions, lung diseases and diabetes. Therefore, it is highly recommended to people falling under these categories to take the most care possible avoiding contact with anybody and to report their case at the slightest feeling of unease.
How does the virus spread?
Most of what experts currently claim to know are based on existing knowledge of past types of coronaviruses, like the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Basically, they say that the virus is transmitted from one person to the other by the form of water droplets, originating from the sneezes or coughs of the infected people, which are then inhaled by other people when they land on the mouth or the nose of the person.
It is also theorised that the virus can be admitted when one touches a surface containing these droplets of water from the infected person. That is why health officials are constantly stressing the need for thoroughly washing your hands with soap.
Nothing is set in stone and many talented researchers all over the world are working tirelessly to learn everything possible on this new strand of virus and how it is being passed from person to person. There is an unfortunate possibility that one can be a vector of COVID-19 before even exhibiting any of the commonly attributed syndromes. Nonetheless, it is believed that the virus is more potently transmitted when the person is already suffering from it.
How is the virus being fought?
To date, there exists no specific antiviral treatment to help against COVID-19, only therapeutic treatments to help alleviate the symptoms and aid to attain a rapid, smooth recovery. However, several drugs claimed to treat the virus are currently facing clinical trials to prove their efficacy.
As soon as Chinese officials publicised the genetic sequence of the virus, scientists all over the world have been working ardently to come up with a vaccine. Despite their hard work, a vaccine is, in the best-case scenario, at least a year away from being made accessible to the public. The reason for this is that the vaccine in question has to undergo a series of thorough tests to check whether it works and if it can be used on humans without any adverse effects. After these tests are effected and the vaccine has been approved for public use, it still needs to be produced in bulk to satisfy the demand all over the globe, a process that will add another few months to the wait.
The Mauritian medical team to fight against the virus has already been put into place, ready to respond to every eventuality that might occur. Test kits have been provided and are kept readied to immediately test anyone showing suspicious symptoms. Officials are checking the temperature of every single passenger landing on Mauritian soil irrespective of their country of departure. As already mentioned above, all passengers will not be authorised to enter the Republic of Mauritius.
Should you use the face mask?
Since no special announcement has been made on the wearing of masks, people are a little worried about whether they should wear a mask or not to go to work. If you have got one, wear it. However, do not start panic buying these items, as, if ever the situation happens to descend into chaos, everyone will require a face mask to protect themselves.
Local authorities have already made provisions for such an event. Thousands of face masks have been ordered from abroad in order to satisfy the need if ever the latter arises.
Surgical face masks do offer a degree of protection, but you should be aware that they are not completely safe. They only block large particles and not the small particles which are extremely numerous in the coughs and sneezes of people.
The situation is certainly a dire one, and much is at stake. The entire world has been shaken by the event which has occurred by the rise of COVID-19, showing a weaker side of humanity, one which many were yet unaware of. Economies have crumpled and stocks have plummeted as a result of all the damage the coronavirus wrecks on its path.
The bread and butter of the Mauritian economy, the tourism sector, is obviously taking a huge hit. In all these moments of confusion, we must not forget that we are the ones responsible for the well being of our country. Stay safe,take care of yourselves, wash your hands, maintain proper hygiene, stay away from crowded areas, follow all the instructions given to the letter. Doing so is the only way of protecting our beloved motherland.
Even though all of the efforts governments and experts, not only in Mauritius but all across the globe are pooling in order to overpower this virus, the real power lies within the people. Within you. Knowledge. Awareness. Adaptability. This is what has helped humanity strive through all the obstacles faced in the span of our history. So, together, let’s protect our small shard of paradise that we adore so much.
On a small island, the virus can spread very fast. But we can create awareness faster.