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Mauritius’ Religious Leaders Commit to Help People Adversely Affected by COVID-19 Lockdown

Logo of the Council of Religions (CoR) in Mauritius.

Members of the Council of Religions in Mauritius have pledged to continue reaching out to the people of God who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 lockdown in the Indian Ocean Island nation.

In their statement following the reopening of the country on Saturday, May 1, the religious leaders note that the Island nation situated some 2,000 kilometres off the Southeast coast of Africa has undergone a lot of devastation, resulting in a lot of suffering among the people owing to COVID-19 restrictions.

They say that the announced re-opening of the country is an opportunity for the population to reflect on the situation of the country and to ensure that the country does not go back to lockdown again.

“The new phase of de-containment that will take place among the Mauritian population from Saturday 1 May 2021 gives us cause to reflect again on the exceptional situation that our country had to live through for 50 days, following the discovery of new cases of COVID-19 on our territory,” the leaders say in a statement shared with ACI Africa.

They add, “Having learned from the 72 days of the first containment last year, our country had to face the unavoidable demands, and sometimes difficult implications, of this pandemic once again.”

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Other difficult implications included “health restrictions, rules of caution, hospital care, public communiqués but also messages of all kinds by each other on virtual networks, some of which conveyed fake news, others tinged with ‘intoxication’, others, still, expressing opinions that could border on conspiracy theories and other conspiracies.”

Churches and other places of worship in Mauritius remained closed for the better part of Easter celebrations following an announcement by the country’s Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth on April 1, that places of worship could only accommodate a maximum of five persons.

In their April 30 statement, the religious leaders say that having learnt from past experiences of the spread of the coronavirus, the lockdown and the social gaps that manifested among the people, the Council of Religions will retain its responsibility of pushing authorities to ensure that people are provided with the health services and economic cushioning they need.

Public authorities, the leadership of the religious body in Mauritius says, should tend to people infected with the virus and those in quarantine facilitates to ensure that they get good services.

The authorities, the religious leaders say, should be ready to manage quarantines and to carry out, with great perseverance, contact tracing in order to contain the threat in the population.

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Public authorities in this case include the Mauritian government, the political leaders, the health services including civil servants from the Ministry of Health & Wellness, doctors, ambulance drivers, staff from hospitals, clinics and dispensaries.

“Let us not fail to include here all other sectors of the public service, civil servants in other ministries and employees of parastatal bodies,” the members of the Council of Religions in Mauritius say, and add, “We must recognize and salute their seriousness and efficiency, and we can only thank them warmly for all their civic dedication.”

The Council that is currently headed by Fr. Philippe Goupille of Mauritius’ Catholic Diocese of Port-Louis brings together Christian, the Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam to promote harmony and to engage in peace-building activities among the people.

In their April 30 statement, the religious leaders express their appreciation to the non-governmental bodies whose patriotism and determination they say have been important in managing the effects of COVID-19 containment in the country.

They also express their sympathy to the families that have lost their loved ones in the ravaging pandemic.

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On their part, the religious leaders say that their efforts have been noted in conforming to the framework imposed by health restrictions.

“They (Religious leaders) have kept faith in God alive, and strong religious mobilizations to nourish the relationship with the Divine, by adapting and using information and communication technologies,” members of the Council of Religions in Mauritius say in their statement.

They add, in reference to various religious activities in the Indian Ocean Island country, “The Naw Ruz of our Baha'i brothers and sisters, the Easter Triduum of the Christians, the Ugadi and Ram Navami of the Hindus, and the beginning of Ramadan for the Muslims, to mention only a few of these beautiful celebrations, were celebrated in families, in small groups, on social media, in a spirit of national collaboration.”

The leaders of the faith-based institutions in Mauritius urge the people of God in the country to continue adhering to safety protocols, saying that they still face a great danger of infections.

“Now that deconfinement is becoming clearer, let us dare to dream that this national momentum will continue. For there are so many challenges ahead of us,” they say, highlighting the need for economic recovery and reinvention of the country’s traditional pillars including tourism and exports.

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