Seychelles and Eritrea have not recorded a new case of the Coronavirus for more than three weeks and this has been attributed to several factors which includes strong health institutions, early response, proper coordination, tracing, testing and treatment. Mauritius was also in this group but recently recorded two new imported cases.
According to an analytical report by Governance, Peace and Security (GPS) Unit at the COMESA Secretariat, these countries established early restrictive measures to minimize the spread of the virus.
In Mauritius, flights from China and Europe, were restricted early and mandatory screening at airports and other public places was introduced.
“These measures and the strict adherence to guidelines by citizens ensured that the spread of the virus was contained and in addition, prevented community transmission,” says the report.
In Seychelles, all travel to the country by foreigners was stopped from 10th March 2020 and no cruise ships were allowed entry in its waters. These early measures limited the spread of additional infections from outside the country. Eritrea on its part enforced a total lockdown.
“It should also be noted that the relatively low population and the geographical positioning of Mauritius and Seychelles gave them a comparative advantage in containing the spread of the virus as it was also easier for them to close their borders,” the report notes.
The strict adherence especially in Mauritius and Seychelles has been supported by a highly literate population. The early response in these countries was also buttressed by a legal framework to support the implementation of some of the measures.
A COVID-19 Bill was enacted in Mauritius to guide the enforcement of social distancing, wearing of masks in public spaces, restriction of movement, among others. Tracing, mass testing and treatment have emerged as one of the most effective ways of managing the spread of COVID-19 among the population. By 26 May 2020, Mauritius had conducted 104,639 tests, that is equivalent to 82,292 per million, the highest attained so far in the region.
Data from the COMESA Early warning System (COMWARN) indicates that over the years Mauritius and Seychelles have built strong health institutions through adequate budgetary allocations, prioritized training of healthcare workers and established adequate health facilities. The investments in the health sector have enabled these countries to build resilience to such shocks and ensured that Mauritius and Seychelles are able to adequately trace, test and treat.