AD427: Mauritians praise government’s COVID-19 response but suspect corruption, distrust politicians

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Dispatches
2021
427
Louis Amédée Darga
The day after Mauritius recorded its first three cases of coronavirus in March 2020, the government closed the country’s borders and announced a nationwide lockdown (World Health Organization, 2020). Schools were closed, public transport services were limited, private vehicles were subject to police checks, and only those with work access permits were allowed to move around the island.

Within the week, regulations were tightened with a sanitary curfew closing down supermarkets, bakeries, and shops. These restrictions were lifted on 30 May 2020 following several days without locally transmitted cases. All schools remained closed 20 March-1 July, with educational programs provided online and through the Mauritius Broadcasting Corp. (Vox EU, 2020).

As of early February 2021, Mauritius has registered 583 cases of the coronavirus with 10 deaths in a population of roughly 1.2 million people (World Health Organization, 2021).

Coronavirus vaccinations began on 26 January 2021 at Victoria Hospital, where 100 doctors and medical staff received their first doses (Africa News, 2021). Since then, Mauritius has received 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a donation from the Indian government (BBC News, 2021), which will be used to inoculate frontline workers as part of a plan the government says will contribute to the revival of crucial industries. The country is also expected to receive doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine through the COVAX distribution facility for low- to middle-income countries (Defimedia.info, 2021).

A new Afrobarometer survey in Mauritius shows that most citizens commend the government’s response to the pandemic. While they found it difficult to comply with lockdown and curfew restrictions, they believe the measures – including school closures – were necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19.

A quarter of all Mauritians say a household member lost a source of income during the pandemic, and slightly more report that they received government assistance.

Despite generally favourable assessments, a majority of Mauritians think resources intended for the pandemic response were lost to government corruption and are worried that politicians will use the pandemic for political gain.

Almost three out of four Mauritians say they are likely to try to get vaccinated against COVID- 19.

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