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Whether in regard to the NOVEL Coronavirus detected in

Wuhan City in the People’s Republic of China, he will state –

(A) The safety and security measures and surveillance

system put in place in the Republic of Mauritius as
precautionary measures against any risks;
(B) The number of times the multi-sectoral team has met
and when the Rapid Response Team has started
implementing its services; and
(C) The number of persons suspected of presenting the
symptoms thereof who can be accommodated at the New
Souillac Hospital.
Mr Speaker Sir,

At the very outset, I wish to thank the Hon Leader of Opposition

for addressing his first Private Notice Question on such a
sensitive issue which has an international dimension and is of
great concern to one and all.

Mr Speaker Sir,

As the House is aware, over the past few weeks, the world has
witnessed an outbreak of a Novel Coronavirus and this has
quickly escalated into a Public Health Emergency of international
concern, with severe repercussions worldwide.

Mr Speaker Sir, this health related threat should cut across party

In reply to this PNQ, I seize the opportunity to inform the House

and the public at large of the various measures which the
Government is taking as a direct response to this global threat.

Indeed, Mr Speaker Sir, I reiterate that, it is our duty and

responsibility as a Government to continuously inform one and all
of the precautionary safety measures that are being implemented
to protect our nationals, in Mauritius and abroad. The objective is
to circumvent the backlash of a potential psychosis that people
would otherwise succumb to.

Mr Speaker Sir,

I wish to emphasize that we have been at the forefront and we

have acted proactively to ensure public safety and well-being.
And, I should reaffirm that we are fully satisfied with the
emergency response and the degree of preparedness of
Mauritius to face the risks of a potential outbreak of the virus.

I would wish to reassure the House that our response strategy

has been developed in line with the recommendations of the
World Health Organization following thorough consultations with
all the relevant authorities and stakeholders concerned.

Mr Speaker Sir, all throughout, we have operated under the able

guidance of the Honourable Prime Minister who has chaired two
inter-ministerial committee meetings to take stock of the prevailing
situation and to take decisions as appropriate.

I would also have to place on record the invaluable support

provided by my colleagues in our coordinated effort and also the
World Health Organization through its representative in Mauritius
as regards the implementation of the recommendations outlined
by the International Health Regulations Emergency Health

Mr Speaker Sir,

As part of our overall response plan, we have also put in place a

communication strategy to continuously inform the population
through the media of the prompt preventative actions taken by my
Ministry. The objective is to galvanize all effort and ensure a
concerted, proactive, and coordinated approach to effectively deal
with this global public health emergency and protect our

All throughout, we have been guided by the need to be

transparent, visible and forward looking in our approach.
Mr Speaker Sir,

In regard to Part (A) of the question, I wish to reassure the House

that all the required safety, security and surveillance measures
have been reinforced by my Ministry as soon as the first alert was
reported by the Chinese authorities.

For the benefit of the House, I am enumerating some of the main

measures already in force:

Surveillance at SSR International Airport

● All passengers arriving from China are systematically being
● Body temperature of passengers is taken individually in the
corridor as they disembark from the plane.
● Body Temperature is again taken by the Thermal Detector at
the Public Health Desk.
● A dedicated desk has been set up at the Public Health
Counter for all passengers arriving from China.
● Public Health Inspectors enquire about the health status of
each and every passenger arriving from China.
● Health Declarations Forms are being verified by the Sanitary
authorities at the Airport.
● The Airport Medical Post is on alert on a 24h basis.
● A dedicated and fully equipped ambulance service is on
stand-by at the airport on a 24h basis to cater for any emergency.
● All health care providers at the Airport are equipped with
Personal Protective Equipment. Furthermore, protective
equipment is also available in case there is any need to transfer
suspected cases to Souillac Hospital.
● Exit screening of body temperature is being carried out
invariably for all passengers travelling back to China.

Surveillance at the seaport

Mr Speaker Sir, at the seaport, the following measures are in
● Passengers travelling by cruise ships and private yachts are
automatically subjected to body temperature check both on
departure and arrival. The same measures are also applicable for
staff members of cruise ships.
● Surveillance is being carried out for all crew members of
cargo ships including fishing vessels.

Mr Speaker Sir,

In addition, all passengers travelling from China are invariably and

systematically put on surveillance (quarantine or isolation) for a
period of 14 days. These passengers are closely monitored.

Mr Speaker Sir,
As regards Part (B) of the question, I wish to inform the House
that a Multi-Sectoral Team and a Rapid Response Team have
been in existence for more than a decade within the structure of
the Public Health Division of my Ministry. As such, following the
outbreak of the Coronavirus, the Inter-Sectoral Team has so far
met on two occasions. The Rapid Response Team, on the other
hand, is on alert at all times.

Mr Speaker Sir,
The House would wish to note that two other meetings were held
jointly by my Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Moreover, the Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service
chaired a Coordination Meeting with officials of my Ministry and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ensure a harmonized approach
by all stakeholders.

Mr Speaker Sir,
Furthermore, on Friday 31 January and Sunday 02 February
2020, the Hon. Prime Minister chaired two consecutive High-Level
meetings to take stock of the measures already in force as well as
to take additional measures to contain the risks of the virus
reaching our territory. During these two meetings, the WHO
representative in Mauritius reaffirmed that the measures being
taken by the Government of Mauritius are fully in compliance with
WHO norms and standards.

Mr Speaker Sir, may I, at this stage, recall that in April 2019,

Government brought important amendments to the Immigration
Act (Act No.3 of 2019) to widen the definition of “prohibited
immigrant”. These amendments were criticised by the then
Opposition, who considered them undemocratic and unfair.

I wish to inform the House that pursuant to section 8(1)(n) of the

Immigration Act, the Honourable Prime Minister, has the power to
declare persons or classes of persons as prohibited immigrants if
their presence in Mauritius is likely to be prejudicial to public
health. This is the very situation in which we find ourselves with
the Public Health Emergency of International Concern which the
Novel Coronavirus represents.

Unlike countries like Singapore which had to enact regulations to

deal with this public health emergency, this Government, with the
foresight of the Honourable Prime Minister, was ready. On 2
January 2020, the Honourable Prime Minister, acting on reliable
information and advice, took appropriate action under section
8(1)(n) of the Immigration Act to deem as prohibited immigrants
passengers travelling from China or persons who, 14 days, prior
to their arrival in Mauritius, had travelled to China.
Mr Speaker Sir,
As regards Part (C) of the question, I wish to inform the House
that the facilities for Isolation and Quarantine at Souillac Hospital
were put in place in 2010 and were then designed to
accommodate some 16 persons. These facilities have now been
upgraded by my Ministry to accommodate up to 36 persons.
Provision is also being made for an additional 20 beds.

Mr Speaker Sir, Government is leaving no stone unturned to

protect our citizens from any unwarranted risks that may be
unleashed by such Public Health Emergency of International

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