Monthly Archives: March 2020

Supermarkets re-open in Mauritius amid curfew

In his press conference, last evening, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, announced that the sanitary curfew is being extended till 15 April. The extension has been prompted by the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. As at date we have registered 143 COVID-19 cases, three of which have been fatal. None of the patients have undergone full recovery so far.

An extended curfew means that people will be confined to their houses for a longer time. Therefore, many families require food provisions.

The Prime Minister announced that supermarkets and shops will re-open as from 2 April but under strict conditions. In today's press conference by the National Communication Committee, the conditions were announced in detail.

Supermarkets and shops will operate from 09h00 - 17h00, Monday to Saturday. Access to the supermarkets will be allowed on alphabetical order. For this purpose, everyone should bring their national identity card with them and expats should bring their passport or residential/work permit. Identity verification will be done before access is granted to the shops.

Alphabetical order as per family name will be as follows:

  • A to F, Monday and Thursday
  • G to N, Tuesday and Friday
  • O to Z, Wednesday and Saturday

All supermarkets and shops will be closed on Sundays. Actions will be taken against shop owners who do not abide to the rules.

There will be further controls before people can gain access to supermarkets, e.g temperature reading. If people are found to have a temperature above 37.5°C or they are coughing/sneezing, they will be required to step away from the queue. They will have to wait for a hospital ambulance to come and they will taken to the hospital for a further medical check-up.

People who gain access to the supermarket will be allowed to use only one caddy which will be disinfected by the supermarket personnel. Hand sanitizer will be provided.

Once inside the supermarket people will have to go through a traced line to collect items they need which will have specific limits (e.g three packets of rice, flour and oil). People will have to follow the line and move forward only, no turning back.

Following the above controlled access to supermarkets and shops, every family will be able to make food provisions twice per week.

These strict guidelines are laid to limit interaction between people. I sincerely hope that people going to the supermarkets adhere to the guidelines for their own protection and the protection of others.

What is an essential food pack?

Last week several online shopping services sprouted to answer the call of numerous people who needed food provisions amid the COVID-19 confinement. I say « services » rather than websites because some of them are operating through Facebook pages, Messenger, WhatsApp or even text messages.

Two things are bugging in most of the services. They are:

  • high price
  • poorly thought food pack

The Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry recommends the following online shopping websites:

  • theshop.mu
    Not taking new orders at the moment as they do not have delivery slots available. Individual products cannot be ordered. They inform customers that new packs varied as per customers' requests will be available soon.
  • priceguru.mu
    An SOS Essential Basket at Rs 3,610 (incl. VAT).
Screenshot taken on 30 March 2020

The basket includes the following:

Advertised as « SOS COVID-19 3ème Age » Food Essentials Basket, the basket is clearly not for a vegetarian family. 😔 Besides why forcing 9 packs of Macaroni on the customer? Keep the list smaller to reduce the price and be able to deliver to more families.

Price Guru also tossed the term contactless delivery. 🤔

  • shopwise.mu

Shop Wise is closed right now.

  • ordermanzer.mu

OrderManzer offers a Basic Pack and a Vegetables Pack, both at Rs 1,500 each.

  • dreamprice.mu

Dream Price informs its customers (on the website) that they have reached the maximum order limit and that they shall communicate once they can take new orders. They offer several packs, namely:

  • Basic Pack (contains staple food, salt, sugar, tuna, mackerel, etc.)
  • Non Food Pack (contains soap, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, washing machine powder, etc.)
  • Baby Pack (contains baby diaper & wipes, but no baby food/milk.)
  • Adult Pack (contains adult diaper)

Today, Winner's re-launched their online shopping service. I had great hopes that they will stop this trend of poorly thought essential packs and rather focus on letting people choose the products they need from a limited set and limited number to pick.

Alas, they offer Essential Packs too, just like the others. 🤦🏻‍♂️

Both « paniers » by Winner's contain Tuna & Sardine. 🐟

I asked myself the question, what is an Essential Food Pack? Shouldn't it be a universal food package (i.e caters for both vegetarians & non-vegetarians) that comes at a very affordable price and be able to last for a longer period of time?

If one goes for the Winner's Panier 1, then what happens when the Tuna/Sardine is over? The family has to purchase another pack and get more flour/rice/oil which they probably do not need. 😐

Does a low income family find themself being able to buy food packs for as long as this confinement lasts?

Okay, for a moment, let's say for the sake of simplicity and rapid service the supermarkets adopted this « food packing » trend (copying a messed up idea that someone started), then, couldn't the supermarkets come up with properly varied packs at just a few hundreds of rupees rather than being Rs 1,000 or Rs 2,000 plus?

What can be done?

Supermarkets (and online shopping websites) can offer simple packages without the possibility of choosing any particular brand. Examples:

  • Staple Food Pack (Rice/Flour/Oil/Sugar/Salt)
  • Canned Food Pack (Non-Veg)
  • Canned Food Pack (Veg)
  • Pasta Pack (Macaroni/Torti/Noodles/Pasta Sauce)
  • Baby Food Pack (Baby Food/Milk)
  • Hygiene Pack General (Soap/Toothpaste/Toothbrush/Hand Sanitizer/Toilet Paper)
  • Hygiene Pack Ladies (Feminine hygiene products)
  • Hygiene Pack Babies (Diapers/Wipes/Lotion)

The above are a just a few ideas and each of those packages should be such that they do not exceed Rs 500. Then, families will be able combine the different packages to obtain what they lack the most.

Over 100 positive COVID-19 cases in Mauritius & supermarkets are re-opening soon

We have reached 102 positive COVID-19 cases in Mauritius, including two deaths. This was announced last evening by the National Communication Committee.

Two hospitals have been dedicated to treat COVID-19 patients only; the New Souillac Hospital and the New ENT Hospital.

Local cases of COVID-19 are being identified daily. Despite this alarm, the curfew, and the confinement, people do not seem to follow strict hygiene guidelines. Press reports show how people are queueing up at gas stations, close to each other; some not properly covered.

Meanwhile, the much awaited online shopping for groceries, which received the government's approval, was an utter disappointed, both in terms of service and price. The essential food packs offered by several of the providers were poorly thought; vegetarians/vegans or people with food allergies were totally excluded.

People expressed « trust issues » with the choice of online shopping websites recommended by the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


It is a big opportunity missed by the major grocery shops as they failed to come up with proper plans & logistics.

Following the « cafouillage » by the providers of online shopping services, the government is now considering to re-open the supermarkets under conditions which are to be announced.

Announcing guidelines a day before the supermarkets open will not be helpful. You must have noticed that in the past few days several measures were announced by the government but those clearly lacked the planning to be enforced properly. I have a feeling that the opening of the supermarkets could end up causing more harm.

I urge people who need to make food provisions, once the supermarkets are open, to please do so by following strict hygiene guidelines and also consider the safety of others. 😷 🧴

Image source: World Health Organization

If you are sick, please do not go to the supermarket. Ask a friend or relative to make the provisions for you. If you cannot seek help from friends or relatives, then call the nearest police station and explain them your situation. 🚓 👮🏻

For medical emergencies related to COVID-19, please call the hotline 8924.

Court appearing through WhatsApp

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, announced a complete lockdown of all supermarkets, shops and bakeries, two days ago. This comes on top of the nationwide confinement that started exactly a week ago.

People are thus confined in their homes. Essential services, like healthcare & sanitary services, police and the fire services are operational. The Courts of Mauritius are operational to a strict minimum too.

The Supreme Court of Mauritius, by order of the Chief Justice, Hon. Eddy Balancy, issued a communique stating that all Courts will remain closed until the end of the confinement. However, district magistrates will remain available through technological means in District Courts to listen to urgent matters such as requests for conditional freedom for first time offenders, cancellation of arrest warrants, protection orders concerning children and victims of domestic violence.

Yesterday, the Anti-Robbery Squad arrested a person after the latter posted on Facebook that people are « rioting » in a particular region in Mauritius.

The Mauritius Police Force are tougher against anything that amounts to fake news or the spread of fake news during an already tensed situation like the current COVID-19 crisis.

A day later, that is today, the person's conditional freedom plea was heard by a magistrate of the District Court of Black River (Bambous), through WhatsApp and the decision to allow bail was given through same. While court cases heard through video conferencing is not a new thing in Mauritius, it is definitely a first that a common online messaging tool such as WhatsApp has been used to hear a court plea.

Bravo for ensuring that justice is served (even amid a crisis)! ⚖️

Where to obtain COVID-19 updates?

Six days ago the Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth, announced to the population that we have recorded the first cases of COVID-19 in Mauritius. Since then much has happened.

The number of COVID-19 cases jumped from 3 less than a week ago to become 42 today.

A National Communication Committee on COVID-19 was set up to provide daily updates on MBC channels at 11h30. The committee provides information on the number of positive COVID-19 cases being identified, status of people in quarantine, additional measures being taken by the government, etc.

I suggest that the one source of information to trust right now should be the National Communication Committee.

Media outlets are picking bits of information from the daily press conference and reporting those individually. That's fine but refrain from re-sharing or posting un-trusted or un-verified information on social media networks. People claiming on social media that hospital staff or relatives working there are giving alarming facts are NOT FACTS! They just contribute to the pile of fake news and rumours.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness updates covid19.mu which is a page that provides the number of active COVID-19 cases in Mauritius and health advice to stay safe.

My developer friends published COVID-19 Mauritius, a webpage that provides COVID-19 statistics for Mauritius. Their source is the local newspapers and radio stations. The source code of the webpage is available on GitHub and contributors are most welcome.

L'express has a dossier of articles on COVID-19.

Mauritian geeks, let’s unite against COVID-19

Now that the coronavirus has become reality in Mauritius and new cases of the COVID-19 disease are being found every day, it is time for us, geeks of Mauritius, to unite.

We, computer scientists, software engineers, makers, mathematicians, statisticians, etc. have an important role to play together with all the other professionals who are already working hard on finding solutions.

I am proposing that, should you have an idea or have developed a web app or a mobile app, that you believe could be useful in this difficult period to send me all the details, ideally in the form of a document (PDF or otherwise), of what you have done. My contact details are in my CV (most notably my email address which is avinashmeetoo@gmail.com)

I’ll then do my best to forward what you have sent me to the most appropriate people in Government.

For discussion among ourselves, may I propose the Mauritius channel on Reddit?

How will people cope with the COVID-19 confinement financially?

People of Mauritius are under a nationwide confinement since 19 March 2020. This confinement is to last for about two weeks, during which people are to remain at home and special permits are given to certain essential services workers to be able to travel only between their home and workplace.

As per the Cabinet Decisions of 20 March 2020, a COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme will provide financial support to  employees who would become technically unemployed on a temporary basis due to the impact of COVID-19. The scheme will cover formal sectors (mainly Travel and Tourism Sector, Export Oriented Enterprises, ICT/BPO Sector and SMEs). This support will be extended to other formal sectors of the economy.

I could not find a proper reference on the Government portal that highlights what are formal sectors but I assume they mean companies duly registered and operating within a defined industry (like the examples given above, Tourism, ICT/BPO etc).

Therefore, I also assume that my neighbourhood dhollpuri seller, carpenters, construction workers, plumbers and labourers will not benefit from the COVID-19 Wage Support Scheme.

My self-employed friends will be left on their own to pay their rents, utility bills and mortgages.

Confinement means no work, which means no income for them. How will they cope financially during this confinement period? What happens if the confinement is extended after the two weeks?

I am a proponent of this confinement which I feel is a necessary step to stop the propagation of COVID-19 on the island. I know the economy will be severely hit but I am also putting my trust in the capable authorities to sustain its people and help them cope financially.

I sincerely hope that the authorities extend the support to more people currently affected by the COVID-19 confinement.

Nationwide confinement announced in Mauritius

The Prime MInister of Mauritius had a press conference scheduled at 14h30 today. 1.5 hours later it was canceled and journalists were told that the PM will address the nation directly later.

At around 21h30 Prime Minister P. K. Jugnauth addressed the population through the national TV, Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation. It appeared to be a recorded message.

P. K. Jugnauth announced that four new cases of COVID-19 have been registered today. This makes the total cases of COVID-19 rise to seven in Mauritius. This number is high enough to raise the alarms now.

He announced nationwide confinement starting 06h00 tomorrow to last for two weeks. He assured the population that there won't be shortage of staple food and medicine. He also assured people working in the private sector that their salary won't be affected.

First COVID-19 cases in Mauritius

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, P. K. Jugnauth held a press conference tonight to announce that three persons, all of them Mauritians, have been tested positive to the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

One person having recently visited the United Kingdom and two others who worked on a cruise ship. The person coming from UK was not in quarantine and was only tested positive after being ill and visited the Candos hospital. The other two persons were quarantined upon their arrival to Mauritius and later they were tested positive for COVID-19.

Public reaction on the social networks was undoubtedly bitter towards the government. The past few weeks it was a general feeling among Mauritians that the government should take strict measures, restrict access to the island, and that all inbound passengers be on mandatory quarantine. Such calls went to deaf ears. Even opposition's pressure was ineffective.

Today, we are no more a safe haven because of incompetent decisions of the government. 😔

Herold🌀

I woke up this morning hearing on the radio that a cyclone warning Class 1 is in force in Mauritius.

Herold is the eighth tropical storm of this cyclonic season. It was named last night after the system situated close to Madagascar, at about 800 km away from Mauritius, developed into a tropical storm.

Satellite image source: Mauritius Meteorological Services

The sky above Mauritius remained clear of clouds for most of the day.

View this post on Instagram

Cyclone Herold se pehle. 🙄

A post shared by Ish Sookun (@ish.sookun) on

We will probably start getting cyclonic conditions on the island in the next few hours/days.