The tropical island paradise of Mauritius has recently been largely declared as Coronavirus free.

While the island, off the South-East coast of Africa, wasn’t able to avoid the pandemic altogether, it has recorded no new reported cases for 20 consecutive days.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted more than 20,000 cases and aproximately 1,139 deaths in the 60+ age group for the Indian Ocean island, but there have been only 332 positive cases and 10 deaths recorded – of which only five directly related to the coronavirus.

As of Sunday (17 May), no new cases have been recorded in Mauritius for 20 consecutive days. The reasons for this efficient control of the pandemic can be attribute to the aggressiveness of the Mauritian authorities and the effectiveness of a primary health system well-seasoned in dealing with epidemics such as malaria and dengue.

Mauritius did not wait for the WHO to declare the coronavirus as a pandemic before implementing precautionary and control measures.

– Beginning on 23 January, all passengers inbound from China were quarantined, a measure extended to other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan shortly thereafter. On 2 February, there was an outright travel ban of these nationals.

– On 16 March, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced the closure of Mauritian borders to countries of the European Union, the UK, and Switzerland from Wednesday, 18 March for an initial period of two weeks.

– On 19 March, with the announcement of the first three cases of the Covid-19 virus, the Prime Minister declared a state of national containment from the following day for 14 days. The entire economy was shut down except for essential services and a few grocery stores and pharmacies.

– Sanitary confinement was tightened three days later and then extended for the first time until 15 April, a second time till 04 May and finally a third time to 01 June, with a gradual opening of certain sectors of the economy from 15 May. The Prime Minister justified this extension so that the stabilisation of the spread of the virus would not be annihilated by a second wave of the disease.

The closure of borders, and the quarantine of residents and those returning from abroad, demonstrates the will to prevent the coronavirus from reaching the coasts of Mauritius.

Mauritian authorities said in a statement:

‘We also note a desire for transparency and continuous communication with daily press conferences of the Mauritius National Communication Committee of Covid-19 and regular interventions by the Prime Minister even when he himself was in self-isolation,’

In practice, the experience of local health services for diseases such as malaria has greatly helped in monitoring contact tracing of people found to be positive. In addition, the centralisation and creation of isolation units for people in need of intensive care has helped to minimise the spread. A policy also helped by the creation of mandatory quarantine centres to for all returnees. It should be noted that there is a good synergy between the government and the private sector, including hotel groups that have made no less than eight hotels available to the government for quarantine purposes.

Finally, it should be added that Rodrigues Island, another part of the Mauritian Republic, located 600 km from Port-Louis, also a popular tourist destination, recorded no cases of the virus, while the sanitary confinement there lasted only 14 days.

Even though no new cases have been detected for 20 days, vigilance has not relaxed. Tests for the Covid-19 virus continue for all those who worked during the confinement period, including medical personnel, police and employees of grocery stores. To date, 87,177 tests of Covid-19 have been performed and 149 people are still in quarantine.