Dr. Ibrahim Alladin

Most of the world is in a state of lockdown or some sort of confinement to stop the spread of the coronavirus or Covid-19. This “viruwar” that erupted in China in December 2019, is becoming a battle between politicians and the medical profession. Donald Trump has stated on several occasions that the United States is in a state of war against an invisible enemy. He even lamented that it is worse than the attack on Pearl Harbour during the Second World War. The death toll in the United States could rise to over 100,000. There is a similar situation emerging in England, where the death toll is also increasing at an alarming rate, and is only second behind the United States in death toll. Donald Trump is getting desperate, he will be facing an election in a few months and his chances of getting re-elected are slipping away. He has pointed fingers towards China and made remarks that are causing concern. Surprisingly Mr Trump along with Mr Bérenger in Mauritius, seem to be questioning the wisdom behind the lockdown. Yet, the medical profession has repeatedly argued that a lockdown is the most effective way of controlling the spread of the virus.
Politicians should be more concerned about saving lives and reducing the casualty instead of thinking about their own skin. They should listen more attentively to the advice of the medical profession. If Donald Trump and Boris Johnson had paid more attention to the medical advice since December 2019, when the virus erupted, today, the situation would have been different in their countries.
Donald Trump has lost the “viruwar” and if the death toll continues to rise, he will go down in history as the president who could not save America against a virus. Making accusations towards China will not help his cause. Whether China is “pro-democrat” and “anti-republican” is not the issue. China has come out of the crisis and is extending its arm to assist others. Trump should swallow his pride and accept China’s assistance to save lives. One can see a desperate president who has run out of ideas. Still, he believes the lockdown and containment are not the way to go. Remember the slogan a few weeks ago: “New York cannot be Wuhan”.
Back in Mauritius. Mr Bérenger does not approve that the lockdown has been extended to June 1, 2020. When the Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, announced the extension a few days ago, Bérenger reacted that the lockdown should not be extended and that the earlier the curfew is lifted the better it is for people. His reasoning is based on the notion that if there are no new cases, the lockdown should be lifted. Mr Bérenger, please take a look at what is happening around the world and listen to the advice given by the medical profession. There is a fear of a “second wave”. He seems to be ignoring this factor.
Pravind Jugnauth has taken some bold measures to contain the spread of the virus in Mauritius. To extend the lockdown to June 1, 2020, is putting the health of the nation first. Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister, once noted: “The care of the public health is the first duty of the statesman”. Trump and Bérenger seem lost and confused, and when one has run out of ideas, even common sense seems to wane away. One is not undermining the economic fallout, the consequences seem unimaginable at times. However, Pravind Jugnauth, took the gamble: he played safe by extending the lockdown. Furthermore, by extending the lockdown period, he also announced a series of measures in preparation for a return to “normality” after June 1st. Mauritius seems to be containing the spread and the result has been encouraging. If the trend continues in the next few weeks, the measures taken by the government will be applauded. Abroad, many countries have quoted Mauritius in its fight against the coronavirus. Mr Berenger should take a closer look at what is happening in Europe and in countries like Singapore. Mauritius should tread more on the side of caution and not venture on a dangerous path.
For Donald Trump time is running out. There is no indication at the moment that the death toll is likely to decrease in the United States. As the election gets closer, the crisis will sink America deeper. Trump’s slogan “Put America first” seems to have evaporated. The coronavirus has taken out whatever steam he was building up. Leave China alone Mr Trump, try to save lives. Distraction is not likely to win him the election, but saving time may help his cause. His miracle cures have also abandoned him. It is time he listens to the medical professionals more attentively. It may be too late to save his campaign but not too late to save lives.

As for Bérenger, it would be more useful if he comes up with a tangible action plan. Like Trump, he seems to have run out of ideas, and as for being a statesman, perhaps, they should both take note of Benjamin Disraeli. Putting the health of nation first will win you any war. Tiny Mauritius in the middle of the Indian Ocean, may have a few lessons to teach others. The situation may not be perfect, but it is effective.