Coronavirus COVID-19 in Mauritius Q & A

Where can I get news about COVID in Mauritius?

  • Covid19.mu is the official website by the government with basic information and hotline numbers, they also have a facebook page.
  • Govmu.org the government of Mauritius website.
  • Besafemoris A mobile application on Covid-19, beSafeMoris, was launched by the government on, March 26 offering, News and Communiques, Health tips, a Directory of Health Centres and Hotline Numbers.

Why is COVID-19 so serious? Isn’t it just like a very bad flu?

It is new, so nobody really understands what it is or how it works, but it is highly viral.
You could have the virus (and spread it) even if you are not showing any symptoms. If every sick person can infect 2 or more people, you get cases exploding exponentially.

Nobody has immunity: So everyone could get it

There is no vaccine or cure: While there is a lot of research and clinical trials right now, a safe and tested vaccine is realistically and optimistically 12 to 18 months away.

How likely am I to catch COVID-19?

Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.

COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go.

Should I wear a mask to protect myself from catching the COVID-19 virus?

Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face masks can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so use masks wisely.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. See Precautions for more info.

I am feeling sick, do I have the virus?

While it is estimated that 20%-60% of the global population will be infected with the virus at some point, there is no need to panic as most people experience only mild symptoms – but you could still spread the virus!

So please stay at home and do not leave your house! You do not have to visit a clinic if your symptoms are mild.

If you are still unsure, call your healthcare provider over the phone first, or you can also call the Mauritius COVID hotline on 8924.

What precautions should I take if someone is ill or self-isolating at home?

  • Limit the movement around the house of the individual who is ill and minimize shared space.
  • Ensure shared spaces like bathrooms, and the kitchen are well ventilated. One way to do this is by keeping the windows open. Clean and disinfect the bathroom and toilet surface at least once a day using regular household soap or detergent for cleaning and then disinfecting with a regular household disinfectant.
  • Do not forget the importance of hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand-rub or soap and water.
  • Whenever possible, household members should stay in a different room or maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from the ill person.
  • When helping care for the sick individual, wear a tightly fitted medical/surgical mask that covers your nose and mouth when in the same room as the affected individual. Make sure you are careful not to touch your mask. If your mask gets wet or dirty, it should be replaced. When removing a mask, it is important to throw it away and perform hand hygiene. Dispose of any material with respiratory secretions immediately after use.
  • Both the ill individual and you, as the caregiver, should perform hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions.

What alternatives do I have if there are no hand sanitizers available? Can I use other alcohol like ethyl or liquor?

If hand sanitizers are not available, you can wash your hands with soap and water and even better, alternative. Liquor is not effective against coronavirus. For an alcohol-based hand rub to be effective, it must have an alcohol content of 60% to 95%.

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you are well, then no testing is recommended. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, you should immediately isolate yourself from others. Call 8924 or your local clinic/medical facility to inform them of your condition and relevant travel/exposure history. From here you will be advised if a medical assessment is necessary and how to get tested.

What is the curfew order in Mauritius?

A Curfew Order, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 across Mauritius took effect on Monday 23 March 2020 to Thursday 2 April 2020 at 20h00 (local time). No person or class of persons will be allowed to remain outdoors within the country or within such area and during the time as specified in that order. The order has been issued in the interest of public health and to protect the Mauritian population.

Anyone found outside their home will be fined an amount not exceeding Rs 500 and imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months. Exceptions are made for those with a work access permit.

For more info, visit the government’s official release.

*(Last updated 30 March 2020)

Why is COVID-19 a big deal for Mauritius?

If 20% of Mauritius catches the virus at the same time, that is 253,000 people. Assuming 5% of those will need ICU beds, that is 12,650 people. We have 4,371 total beds for the whole of Mauritius across government and private clinics (Source data as of 2017), and if 5% were ICU beds, that would be only 218 beds, for 12,650 people.

These beds do not only have to be used for COVID-19 treatment, but for regular health emergencies. With free healthcare, our hospitals are already heavily utilised. That is the real problem, and that is why #flattenthecurve is trending. This is a fantastic graphic simulation of how the virus spreads, why social distancing is key to stop the cases from rising, and how to flatten the curve.

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?

Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. See Precautions for more info.

Can home remedies cure and protect against COVID-19?

No home remedies can protect against COVID-19, including vitamin C, essential oils, silver colloid, sesame oil, garlic, fish tank cleaner, bleach and sipping water every 15 minutes.

The best approach is to adopt a good hand washing regimen and to avoid places where there may be unwell people.

How do I get groceries during the Coronavirus confinement period?

Restrictions have been put in place in order to control the spread of the coronavirus, including limited access to supermarkets and markets. However you can still get your groceries through deliveries.

Several companies, platforms and individuals are offering delivery services for basic groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, chicken and fish as well as hygiene and sanitary products.
You can find the complete list here.

There is also a possibility of supermarkets being reopened, though there is yet to be any official communication regarding this.

Will there be food shortages in Mauritius or in supermarkets?

There are currently no shortages of food in Mauritius, and there have been no disruptions to supply distribution. However, due to panic buying, some stores have sold out of supplies like hand sanitizer.

Many grocery stores are restocking, so please be patient and courteous to those in the retail industry. They are doing their absolute best to keep up with demand.

Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or food contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?

Currently there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or objects. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety – clean, separate, cook, and chill.

How many people in Mauritius already have the virus?

No one knows, as most people who have the virus might have none to mild symptoms.
The first imported case was a 59-year old man who arrived in Mauritius on the 7th of March from the UK, who did not show any symptoms, and was only announced to have tested positive on 18 March, 11 days later .

Are older adults and the elderly only at risk?

Like other coronaviruses, COVID-19 can infect people of any age. However, older adults or individuals with preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes or asthma, are more likely to become severely ill.

What tests does Mauritius use? How does it work?

The process for diagnosing coronavirus infection is changing rapidly so there is no fixed method.

Dr. Catherine Gaud of the National Communication Committee explains how COVID-19 is handled in Mauritius.

“There are three ways to enter the healthcare system. First, ideally, there is the hotline 8924. Whether for questions, public concerns or to report symptoms of Covid-19, a service is in place to answer calls, “explains Dr. Catherine Gaud. Once the questions have been asked, a doctor will follow up and if he considers that the symptoms described require a test, a mobile team will come to take a sample.

This team is made up of a doctor and a nurse. The team will assess the person’s condition and whether the person requires hospitalization or whether the person can stay at home.

Once the sample is taken, the person can stay at home while waiting for the analysis of the test. “Depending on the result, the person will be treated in one of the hospitals if the person is ever infected with COVID-19,” she said.

Then there are those who go to the emergency room in hospitals. On site, nurses screen cases and those deemed suspicious are referred to the “Fever Clinic” which allows immediate care, without having to wait. A sample is taken on-site. If the person’s condition is not worrying, they can go home while waiting for the results of the analyzes. However, if the symptoms are suggestive, there will be hospitalization and isolation according to Dr. Catherine Gaud.

What has the government done to prepare for the socio-economic impact of the virus?

The negative impact of the virus on GDP growth is estimated to be at least 0.9% (source).

The government reduced overall government spending by 10% including travel by ministers.

The prime minister announced on 13 March a support plan “Plan de Soutien” across all sectors including local manufacturing and SMEs. These include equity participation schemes by the state investment corporation, a revolving credit fund of Rs 200M by the development bank of Mauritius, and a review of the SME Equity Fund among a litany of other initatives. More information and sectoral support can be found on EDB’s press release.

The prime minister announced a Wage Assistance Scheme that will help cover 50% of all salaries up to Rs 50K during the 2-week lockdown period. This will cost the government Rs 2.6B.

If I have COVID-19, can I infect my pet? Can I get COVID-19 from my pet?

There is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 or that they might be a source of infection. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the new coronavirus. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick.

If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets. Global health organizations are monitoring the outbreak’s potential impact on animal health and will notify the public if new information becomes available.

What is Fake News about the Coronavirus in Mauritius?

The Coronavirus brings with it its share of rumors and false information. On social networks, especially Facebook and Whatsapp, false images, recordings and videos circulate, (ie. explanations of the origin of the coronavirus, miracle cures like garlic, regulations and procedures etc) all without source and without analysis.

The Government severely condemns the actions of those who are spreading fake news on COVID-19. The Cybercrime Unit of the Police Force, said that those found guilty in Mauritius of having spread false news risk a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to Rs 1 million for each false news broadcast.

Be sure to only check news from verified sources and not just social media posts. You can find all official information about the coronavirus in Mauritius from these sources:

  • Covid19.mu is the official website by the government with basic information and hotline numbers, they also have a facebook page.
  • Govmu.org the government of Mauritius website
  • Besafemoris the mobile application on Covid-19, beSafeMoris, launched by the government