It’s Not Over Yet

Editorial

A recent sequencing exercise undertaken by the local health authorities have indicated that out of a sample of 22 local cases, 16 have been attributed to the Delta variant. The Delta variant was first detected in India in December 2020 and became the most commonly reported variant in the country from mid-April 2021. In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is reported to be keeping a close watch for positive cases detected in the country, and as more genomes are sequenced locally, it will become clearer when and how the Delta variant slipped through our border.

As regards the Covid situation across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his address to the World Health Summit in Berlin on Sunday, that with almost 50,000 deaths a week, the pandemic is far from over and the world needs to use public health tools effectively to tackle it. According to data published by the Worldmeters website on Monday, as many as 244,427,410 Covid-19 cases have been registered across the world so far. It also showed that at least 4,963,752 people have lost their lives to the viral disease and the number of recoveries stands at 221,451,949. And we have not reached the end of the Covid-19 tunnel yet.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics on Friday found that Covid-19 prevalence had risen again. The ONS said Covid prevalence was at its highest level since January, when England had just entered a third national lockdown, although deaths are much lower. Infections in Britain are up 17.9% over the last seven days, with 52,009 reported on Thursday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last Friday a new Covid-19 lockdown is not on the cards, even as advisers warned that acting early with lighter measures to cut rising case numbers would reduce the need for tougher restrictions later.

China is currently experiencing a spurt in its daily infections of Covid-19, as an outbreak, traced to a group of tourists, has led to authorities to impose a range of restrictions to bring the situation under control. China’s new Covid-19 infections will increase in coming days and the areas affected by the epidemic may continue to expand, an official at the National Health Commission, said at a briefing in Beijing on Sunday. The current outbreak is caused by the delta variant from overseas, he said.

Germany is currently facing an increased spread of Covid-19, prompting calls to extend the nationwide state of emergency, which will end on November 25. Germany recorded the highest single-day spike since mid-May on Saturday after 15,145 people were detected as Covid-19 positive. On Sunday, 11,411 new cases were reported, pushing the caseload to 4,476,078, according to Worldmeters. According to a report by the New York Times, infections in Germany have increased by 57% in the last two weeks, while deaths have increased by 11%.

If we can say with a measure of satisfaction that the Mauritian health authorities have managed the Covid situation, especially the first wave of the pandemic, reasonably well, with the easing of restrictions and the reopening of our border to tourists and now the prevalence of the delta variant in the community, it is clear that we are not out of the woods yet. Mauritius will have to live safely with Covid-19, but every effort will have to be made to ensure that we do so with as few casualties as possible. Much of that will obviously depend on the inclination of the local population to do their part and exercise their social responsibility by following the guidelines of the health authorities, the more so in light of the data indicating that the virus is changing so fast and so often. But it would seem that the accumulated frustration about the earlier lockdowns have now given way to a disregard of sanitary restrictions in certain public places, as can be witnessed locally.

As we have had occasion to flag before, the key to achieve control, over the disease is to give the proper information in an effective way to the population and to come clean with the facts and figures. An aware population will surely be better willing and prepared to assume its role and responsibility more fully. It has therefore become more than imperative that the Ministry of Health should bolster its communication stratagem so that the people know exactly what is happening and act accordingly to protect themselves and others as well and help to curb the spread of the pandemic.


* Published in print edition on 26 October 2021

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