Jhayraz (Oudesh) Bhurtun

The Coronavirus pandemic is affecting us all in one form or another leaving many of us apprehensive, anxious and worried about the future. We read of stories in the media about long queues, empty supermarket shelves (despite being told there is no need to panic there is enough food to feed everyone) and the increasing number of people needing hospital care as the virus takes hold. All this is enough to create an atmosphere of fear which impacts on our general well being.
As people the world over are following social distancing and isolation during the coronavirus crisis, we have seen many who are building close relationships, showing inspirational acts of solidarity, ingenuity and connection that is resonating profoundly around the globe.
This virus we are being told is no ordinary virus and is now affecting almost every country in the world with the exception of a few. However, in the middle of all this challenging and unsettling time we have seen unprecedented acts of generosity and kindness that are lifting spirits and changing lives. Many individuals, organisations and charities have shown amazing acts of generosity by going above and beyond in their effort to help with the ongoing pandemic.
We heard in the Motor Industry about dealers offering vehicles on free loans for frontline staff to get to work safely without fear or danger of catching the infection. We heard of other firms also across the globe that have been playing their part too in the fight against COVID-19, with donations to purchase medical supplies and equipment for hospitals amid the shortage. They all want to do their bit to help the country come out from this uncertain and difficult time.
We have also seen sports men and women, and celebrities doing their bit by giving a fraction of their salaries to charities for good causes. They are doing their part to improve and make the situation better. A life saved is a victory against COVID-19. As someone said this is a simple way to protect our real action heroes on the frontlines who are putting their lives in harm’s way to keep us safe.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought tragedy to thousands of people around the world, but it has also brought out the best in us. With the travel ban and lock down imposed worldwide, COVID-19 has impacted the tourism industry enormously with a lot of businesses going to the wall as bookings took a nose-dive. However, the cafes, restaurants owners and hotel chains have turned this into an opportunity to serve their communities by playing their part, preparing and giving free food boxes for the most vulnerable and those struggling to buy food during the lockdown. Hotels are opening their doors for the homeless, providing them a safe, clean and warm place to shelter and be cared for.
Closer to home too as has been reported in the national papers and on social media, we have seen similar phenomena happening. We have seen a few organisations taking the lead to help fund the fight against this deadly disease. Natec Medical donated masks and gloves to the Mauritius Police Force in support of the fight. The men and women are not only doing a fantastic job ensuring that the ‘stay at home’ message is being adhered to, but at the same time keeping us safe by reacting swiftly to the problems and incidents that have been taking place on a daily basis.
Vivo Energy Mauritius together with partner organisations too have pulled out all the stops to make a difference and change lives by helping poor families in remote areas distributing free foods. They are extending their support by providing resources to other organisations and NGOs that are joining forces in this fight.
Another player that is also making a difference in the fight against COVID-19 is the Rogers Group. Through their programme of help and support are taking care of the most vulnerable people in society.
All these acts of generosities and kindness are making a huge difference in supporting poor and vulnerable families in this period of crisis. To quote John Fitzgerald Kennedy one of the charismatic presidents of the USA who put it so eloquently “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
The money raised so far via the Solidarity Funds initiated by the Mauritius government has been going to good causes, helping desperate families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Donations from corporation like Rogers Group and its subsidiaries are helping the government to mobilise additional manpower and medical help to fight this disease.
That said, regardless we need to keep the momentum going if we are to succeed against this invisible and indiscriminate enemy. More can be done. It is just a matter of will and determination. It is time I believe for other successful businesses at home, including the bankers, CEOs, huge millionaires and wealthy individuals, on whose help the country depends at this hour of need to stand up, come forward and be counted. They have the wherewithal to do good and change outcomes and lives. Together this foe can be defeated. I am confident that we are going to come out of this crisis, admittedly bruised but with renewed vigour and passion to change things for the better for all of us.
I am an optimist and positive about the future. I am also a realist and strictly speaking it will need much, much, more resources and money for that matter to fight COVID-19 alone. As for the economy the stimulus that will be required from central government will need to be enormous in order to kick start it. Let alone the other sectors.
As the majority of us worldwide hunker down and stay at home at this difficult time, let us not forget the key workers- delivery drivers and supermarkets staff who are working very long hours and round the clock to keep supplies flowing and supermarkets shelves stacked up. Let us not forgot also the postmen, municipality workers, social workers, care workers and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers, fire and rescue service, prison and probation staff who are keeping services going. We owe them all a sense of gratitude for keeping the show on the road.
The “stay at home” message from governments around the world has been strong and unequivocal. This has been working well in the main, to slow down the rate of infection and avoiding hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. However, spare a thought for millions of souls who are homeless and don’t have a place to call home; for millions of others who are trapped in makeshift shelters in refugee camps around the world having fled persecutions from their own country and having nowhere to go, praying and hoping they escape the disease. Hats off to all the charities, benevolent organisations and brave soldiers out there that are looking after these forgotten sections of our society.
The costs to the economy worldwide are predicted to be ginormous with some countries affected more severely than others. Juggling the economic, social and health issues is no small feat for any government. The road ahead will not be easy to navigate for months if not years to come. Governments around the world will need to work with business leaders, bankers, experts and stakeholders to agree on a plan of action to get the wheels of industry turning again once the country is opened again for business. There should also be concerted efforts in supporting each other especially nations with weaker economies.
It should be recognised however, that things will not be the same as they used to be. We cannot afford to continue in our old ways as if nothing has happened. There will need to be a shift in personal and corporate responsibility at home and worldwide. Hopefully we will all have learned something from this social isolation experience and are able to move on; showing more appreciations and be grateful to our friends, neighbours and loved ones; be mindful of our surroundings; be appreciative of the birds, animals, the air we breathe, nature and how we live life. We cannot go back to the pre-pandemic ways and practices.
In conclusion, all our efforts, courage, patience and understanding are being tested at this difficult time and we will be remembered for our actions, deeds, choices and contributions (no matter how small) we have made to fight this virus which, so far, has proved to be elusive to the Scientific Community. In that endeavour, I wish them Godspeed.

22-04-2020