Dangerous Portents


During their press conference on Saturday last, the opposition members making up the team covered a few topics, amongst which drugs and the serial episodes of violence that have become such a frequent occurrence in the country. Drugs have been the subject of multiple interventions by politicians of all hues, but so far without any sign of resolution of the problem despite the Lam Shang Leen Drug Commission Report and the Task Force that was set up to follow up on recommendations chaired by Sir Anerood Jugnauth. He is now out of the picture, and Lex in this week’s Qs & As pertinently asks whether the Task Force has died a natural death.

As worrying as this is, compounded further by the ravages being caused by the epidemic of synthetic drug use, another equally dangerous phenomenon that has emerged and is spreading is what Nando Bodha has referred to as gang culture. This is the first time that this term is being used, and if indeed such gang culture is being ‘institutionalised’ in our social landscape, then we are in for very scary times ahead. As if the other crimes that are taking place are not enough! Delays in police investigations and action, with further lags caused by protracted and obstructive legal proceedings seem to have emboldened the perpetrators, and may be part of the explanation of why this gang culture is multiplying its criminal acts.

On the other hand is the resurgence of cases of Covid, which have so far been isolated or small numbers in scattered areas across the country. All of a sudden now we are confronted with another large cluster of 28 cases in Vallee Pitot which has been declared red zone yesterday. This is the second largest number of cases detected in one locality after the one at Forest Side which led to the lockdown, and concerned a single family group, involving 42 cases, and that group had the unfortunate tragedy of losing loved ones to the Covid-19 bug.

As we await further developments and information from the authorities regarding this large new cluster, apprehension is growing as there are rumours that under pressure from the private sector, in particular the hotel lobby, the government is planning to open the frontiers as from the end of June, and perhaps even earlier, with all the risks that this decision may lead to as regards a further intensification of the pandemic locally. So many views have been expressed about the need to resume economic activities as the country’s financial reserves are being drained, but treading the fine line between doing that and containing the pandemic is going to require a trapeze’s skill!

Whether it is crimes or large clusters, the onus finally falls on the authorities. They have to beef up their surveillance and control mechanisms. They have to be more strict about compliance with gatherings in large numbers in defiance of what is recommended, as this endangers the whole country, with the spectre of further and complete lockdown hanging over our heads. Things seem to be getting worse and worse, and this is a dangerous trend.

* Published in print edition on 25 May 2021

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