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Key findings
  • More than half (53%) of Mauritians say they or a member of their household became ill with COVID-19 or tested positive for the virus. About one-fourth (27%) say someone in their household lost a job, business, or primary source of income due to the pandemic.
  • More than nine in 10 Mauritians (95%) say they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • More than six in 10 Mauritians (62%) approve of using security forces to enforce public health mandates during an emergency like the pandemic, and almost half (45%) would accept postponing elections. But most (79%) disapprove of censoring media reporting during a public health emergency.
  • Mauritians are divided in their views on whether the government is prepared to deal with future public health emergencies (52% yes, 43% no) and whether it needs to invest more in such preparations (43% yes, 40% no).

Mauritius reported its first case of COVID-19 on 18 March 2020. The next day, the government closed the country’s borders and announced a nationwide lockdown. Schools were closed, public transport services were limited, private vehicles were subjected to police checks, and only people with work access permits were allowed to move around the island (Vox EU, 2020).

Since then, the country has experienced two waves of rapid increases in new infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. As of 6 September 2022, Mauritius (with a population of 1.3 million) had officially recorded 258,301 cases of COVID-19 with 1,023 deaths (World Health Organization, 2022a).

The government’s swift and massive response included the creation of a High-Level Committee (National Communication Committee) on COVID-19 chaired by the prime minister, which released official information on the virus. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology created the “beSafeMoris” smartphone app, which provided official updates and practical advice daily (Vox EU, 2020). The Quarantine Act 2020 mandated the wearing of masks in public and prevented gatherings of more than 100 people (Government of Mauritius, 2020).

As COVID-19 vaccine became available in December 2020, health authorities created a national vaccine deployment plan that included vaccination sites in neighbourhoods and private clinics as well as vaccination at home for people with disabilities (World Health Organization, 2022b). As of September 2022, 2,636,650 vaccine doses (based on a two-dose regimen plus booster) had been administered; 80.1% of the population had received at least one dose (Africa CDC, 2022).

The government lifted COVID-19 restrictions as of July 2022; wearing of masks is no longer compulsory except on public transport and in health centers, and public gatherings are allowed (AfricaNews, 2022).

In addition to immense health and human costs, the pandemic brought a downturn in several sectors of the country’s economy. The unemployment rate reached 9.1% in 2021, compared to 6.7% in 2019 (Statistics Mauritius, 2021). The country’s gross domestic product growth rate, however, which declined from 3% in 2019 to -14.9% at the end of 2020, managed to grow to 4% in 2021 (World Bank, 2021).

A new Afrobarometer survey shows the pandemic’s widespread negative effects on Mauritians’ health and livelihoods. Overall, however, most Mauritians are satisfied with the government’s response to the pandemic and its relief efforts, though many believe that COVID-19 resources have been lost due to corruption.

An overwhelming majority of citizens report having been vaccinated against COVID-19 despite low levels of trust in the government’s ability to ensure vaccine safety.

Mauritians are divided when it comes to whether the government is prepared to deal with future public health emergencies and whether it should invest in preparations for such crises even at the cost of other health services.

L. Amédée Darga

L. Amédée Darga is the Afrobarometer national investigator in Mauritius.

Nazrana Hurroo

Nazrana Hurroo previously served as a junior researcher at StraConsult.