GIS - 06 March, 2020: Government has taken all necessary measures to strengthen the level of preparedness and response to the Novel Coronavirus threat by adopting a collective, co-ordinated and comprehensive approach, engaging all stakeholders. As at now, there is no reported case of COVID-19 in the Republic of Mauritius.
The Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement, today, in the National Assembly in reply to a Private Notice Question on the measures and the proportionate approach taken by Government to the health and economic risks of the COVID-19.
Prime Minster Jugnauth reaffirmed that Government will spare no efforts in preventing the entry of the virus in the country and will act aggressively to isolate and contain its spread. The population, he said, is being sensitised on the symptoms and the ways to protect themselves against the COVID-19.
Speaking on the sanitary measures, he indicated that the testing capacity has been increased and the workforce at the hospital is prepared to cope effectively with the threat. The issues of essential supplies, training and protection of health workers have already been addressed and the situation is being monitored on a daily basis, he added.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Government has acted promptly on the call of the World Health Organization (WHO) to have a preparedness plan so as to deal with the threats posed by the Novel Coronavirus and has therefore expediently reinforced surveillance at the port and airport in order to ensure that the virus does not enter the Mauritian territory.
Consequently, he said, an Operational Plan on COVID-19 has been prepared and circulated to all stakeholders including the media, private sector, ministries and departments in particular the port and the airport. The Plan comprises policy response framework; coordination, monitoring and assessment; prevention and containment; health service response; and communications. It also presents a collection of protocols to be used by all stakeholders involved in controlling the COVID-19. He further stated that the operational plan, which has been endorsed by the WHO will also be applicable in case of a pandemic.
With regard to coordination among governmental bodies, Prime Minister Jugnauth stated that an inter-sectoral committee and a management committee have been established at the level of the Ministry of Health and Wellness to monitor the daily activities pertaining to the operational plan and to review the situation as well as to issue interim guidelines and standard operating procedures.
Among the main measures are: surveillance at the airport and at the Seaport; and putting on alert a multi-sectoral team and a rapid response team.
Additionally, Prime Minister Jugnauth recalled that he chaired four meetings of the High Level Committee on COVID-19 to review the situation pertaining to the outbreak of the disease while highlighting that a number of policy decisions has been taken to restrict trade and travel from a number of high risk countries such as China, South Korea, Italy and Iran.
On the domestic front, Prime Minister Jugnauth underscored that all sectors would be impacted and the most vulnerable ones are Tourism, Manufacturing, Trade, Financial Sector and Construction.
He also highlighted that the Economic Development Board (EDB) has conducted an economic impact assessment of COVID-19 based on a Computable General Equilibrium model under different scenarios. He added that under the baseline scenario, which takes into consideration current travel and trade restrictions that have already been imposed by Government, the negative impact of COVID-19 on GDP growth is estimated to be at least 0.9 % for 2020 depending on the duration and depth of the crisis.
The Prime Minister furthermore elaborated on the Working Group set up at the level of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development (MOFED) with different stakeholders to assess the impact on the various sectors of the economy and come up with a package of mitigating measures. Additionally, he emphasised that a core team of specialists from the MOFED, the EDB, Statistics Mauritius, Mauritius Revenue Authority and the Bank of Mauritius are working together on a daily basis to monitor the situation.
Concerning public expenditure, he said, Government has already provided additional funds to the Ministry of Health and Wellness to acquire necessary equipment and medical accessories to cope with COVID-19 and which will not compromise Government policy to exercise strict control on budgetary allocation. As regards overseas mission, he mentioned that Government will significantly reduce expenditure under that vote item.
Moreover, the Prime Minister pointed out that Ministries and Public Sector Bodies are expected to achieve efficiency gains of at least 10 % on their recurrent expenditure. The expenditure relating to the National Day celebrations has been significantly reduced and the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office has been reduced from Rs 12 million to Rs 2 million, he added.
Speaking on COVID-19, he stated that according to statistics from the World Health Organization, as at this morning, there were some 98,429 reported confirmed cases of Coronavirus across the world with 3,387 deaths and 55,641 recovered from the infection. There are currently some 40,000 active cases spread across 90 countries worldwide.
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