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This is my second paper on COVID 19.  I don’t expect the authorities to apply whatever I or any other Mauritian propose regarding our fight against this virus. But I am sure that many Mauritians are now bored with the daily press conference of Dr Gujadhur on the MBC.  

Every time he opens his mouth he scares and annoys us more by his intimidating tone, instead of motivating us to adopt social distancing in order to supress the spread of the virus. In a situation like this we don’t need daily doses of admonishment.  As far as I know he works in the NCD department of the MOH and he is not a virologist for sure.  I fail to understand how he is given precedence over the Chief Medical Officer and the Minister of health for this purpose.

Who is running this ministry?

All of us watch the BBC, CNN, and France 24 and other TV channels; we know how dangerous is the Corona virus and how it spreads.What we need to have from Government is: transparent and timely and relevant information on the spread of the disease in the country and the evolution of figures as far as the patients and the front line staff (the police and the medical staff) are concerned. While we know exactly what is happening around the world on the Corona virus we are shocked with the dearth of the essential information and data as far as the situation in our own country is concerned.

Where is the Chief Medical officer (CMO) of Mauritius? Why does he not come forward to talk to the public as his counterparts are doing elsewhere in the world? Why is it that Mauritius is the only country that does not publish a daily heat map on corona virus locality wise? What are we scared of?

Today (28th March) I was watching the press conference held at the PMO. To my surprise no journalists were invited in the press conference. Instead they had to email their questions. I infer that journalists are denied access to the PMO because of the risk that they infest the PMO with Corona Virus. How disrespectful? But this communication exercise could well have been telecast live from the MBC Studio or a kitchen radio and the journalists could have intervened live .Everybody would have listened to their questions and the response of the Government. I will go a step further. Why not organise daily Q&A programmes live on the MBC by the wisemen (specialists and experts NOT activists) in the health sector to talk to the public directly and give them reassurances and advice. This is how Taiwan has successfully contained the Corona Virus.

The daily talks of Dr Gujadhur about his contact tracing is bringing us nowhere.  We all know that:

1.    The number of positive corona virus cases reflect only the results of the test carried. The higher the number of tests the higher will be the number of cases. We do not know how many testing kits the country has todate.

2.    The death figures published reflect the intensity of the epidemic 2-4 weeks prior to the death. Those who die of Corona Virus do not die in the first 8 days.
Will the Government enlighten us on the names of the medicines being given to those detected with Corona virus at each stage? We are entitled to know for instance whether our patients are receiving hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin or zinc. Dr Zelenko is using a protocol of these three medicines in New York just like Dr. Raoult is doing in Marseilles.We are entitled to know if our doctors are using AVIGAN (H1N1), KALETRA (HIV), REMDESIVIR (EBOLA) or AVESCO (ASTHMA). Japan has used these medicines to contain the virus.We are entitled to know how many test kits we have as at today for a population of 1.3 million.

We are entitled to know how many patients are in intensive care unit.  We are entitled to know how many ventilators we have in our public hospitals and how many of them are broken down. For today I will end on the denial of access to journalists to the PMO fearing that they may contaminate the PMO. If PMO staff are so wary about protecting their own health, can we know why are they exposing our health staff every day?

I am speaking here not only of the nurses and the Doctors, but also of all auxiliary staff who are the first to encounter the patients when they reach the doors of the hospitals or the day care centre. I am talking about the ambulance drivers, I am talking about the police officers who are doing a formidable work in spite of a few excesses. Why is it that these people are not being provided with protective personal equipment?  We must take care of our patients. But we need to protect these front line staff by carrying regular tests on them also because without them the system will collapse if the number of cases explode.

If we are asking these questions today it is because we are the one who will foot the bill.

“Money does not fall from trees” as Dr Manmohansing rightly said.  We will pay from our pockets in form of taxes.

Pradeep Jeeha


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