COVID-19: no restrictions but monitoring for passengers coming from China

The High-Level Committee met on Thursday January 5, 2023 under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. Although no new health ban will be imposed on passengers arriving from China, it has been decided that they will be subject to surveillance for several days.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in China due to the circulation of the BF.7 subvariant prompted several countries to strengthen their sanitary measures. If the Mauritian State does not impose new health restrictions on passengers coming from or passing through the Middle Kingdom, it will nevertheless subject them to a follow-up of several days.

The decision was made at the meeting of the High-Level Committee on COVID-19 on Thursday, January 5, 2023. Several stakeholders from various ministries, including Health, participated in this meeting chaired by the Prime Minister. The pandemic situation worldwide and in Mauritius is assessed.

In addition to the temperature control to which all passengers are already subject, those arriving from China or those moving there will be monitored during the first days of their stay in Mauritius. “There will be no restrictions on the arrival of passengers. There will only be surveillance for a few days,” confirmed Dr. Ashwamed Dinassing, Director of Health Services.

This measure will apply to both Mauritians and foreigners. According to him, the country does not need to impose health restrictions because most of its population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has achieved herd immunity.

An opinion shared by other health professionals. “There is no real need to step up screening measures for passengers arriving from China,” said Dr Shameem Jaumdally, a Mauritian virologist who practices in South Africa. Countries that have chosen to conduct due diligence regarding these passengers, such as Spain, the United States, France and Israel, have a contrasting view, while others are considering imposing restrictions.

The Mauritian virologist is of the opinion that there is no need to introduce restrictions as endemicity has already been established in most countries. For him, it is impossible to prevent what is happening in China from happening in Mauritius. “It’s just a matter of time and timing. I don’t believe that anything should be changed by using stricter surveillance on passengers,” Dr. Jaumdally emphasized.

Dr Sivalingum Ramen, former Director General of Health Services, pleads for random testing. “There should also be sequencing of positive cases to find out if there are new variants and to follow the patients to see how the virus has evolved. »

Sequencing was conducted from September 6 to November 15, 2022
Date BA.2 BA.4 BA.5 BE.1/BF BA.2.75 BQ.1 XBB.1/XBB.2/XBB.3
September 6 – Oct 26 7 6 147 22 78 4 1
1 Nov – 11 Nov 1 70 8 3
November 9 – Nov. 15 1 5 53 4 12
6 Dec. – 12 Dec. 1 1 51 9 10
Total 9 6 154 22 252 25 26

Omicron’s XBB sub-variant is now in Mauritius

The XBB.1.5 subvariant of Omicron is spreading rapidly in several countries, including the United States where it may become the dominant virus. Other sub-variants have been in circulation in Mauritius since October 2022, according to Dr Ashwamed Dinassing (see table).

But he added that there is no need to panic as the country has reached herd immunity. According to him, the virus has been present for several months and it does not represent a real health problem. “We are fortunate that most of the population has been vaccinated. However, vigilance is still required. »

He warned that the XBB subvariant could be fatal for those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Its symptoms are very similar to other Omicron subvariants, which cause a dry cough. The infected person may also not have a fever. He emphasizes that there are no diseases without symptoms and each one manifests itself in one way or another.

A patient who gets sick with the subvariant may have one or all of the symptoms of COVID-19: cough, fever, runny nose, body aches or even a sore throat. “Many recover when given the right treatment. Defined by Dr. It is noted that the symptoms may be mild but quickly weaken in the infected person. Dr. indicates Shameem Jaumdally that transmission of XBB virus occurs faster than other sub-variants of Omicron. It does not cause severe illness, according to the Mauritian virologist. “Several patients who contracted this subvariant were hospitalized or died,” he said.

The XBB.1.5 sub-variant is a recombinant (sub-variant created by combining two Omicron sub-variants). It was first detected in October 2022, according to the World Health Organization. The UN organization considers XBB.1.5 to be the most transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2 ever detected.

BF subvariant explained.7

Believed to be responsible for the increase in cases of COVID-19 in China, the BF.7 sub-variant continues to be discussed. Fearing the threat of a resurgence of new cases, several countries including France have implemented restrictions against passengers from China. According to studies, BF.7 is highly contagious. It can infect between 10 and 18 people, compared to about five for other Omicron subvariants, according to estimates. If the BF.7 doesn’t present itself as more ferocious, it’s its high infectivity that worries. Its shorter incubation period than others also increases fear.

Dominance of BA.2.75 subvariant

It is the BA.2.75 sub-variant that is most present in Mauritius in the last months of 2022, according to the results of sequencing exercises. At least 201 cases were detected in the samples analyzed.

The subvariant is followed by BA.5 with 153 cases; BE.1/BF with 22 cases; BQ.1 with 16 cases; XBB.1/XBB.2/XBB.3 and XBB.1 with 12 cases and four cases respectively; BA.2 with eight cases and BA.4 with four cases. In the last exercise, the results of which were announced on Friday January 6, 2023, it appears that BA.2.75 is dominant. Of the 82 samples collected, there were 51 cases of BA.2.75, followed by 10 cases of XBB/XBB.1 and nine cases of BQ.1 (see table).

54 active cases and a stalled vaccination campaign

The country has 54 active cases of Covid-19 out of 56 positive cases identified within a week according to information communicated by the Ministry of Health on Friday January 6. 15 patients were also admitted to the New ENT Hospital. Among the two unvaccinated patients were on ventilation and two partially vaccinated patients were placed on oxygen. The other 11 are in the general room.

New sequencing results also came in. These are the results of samples taken from 89 samples collected from December 6 to 12, 2022. (See below).

It should also be noted that vaccination against Covid-19 is stagnating. In fact, in just one week, 14 people received their first dose of the vaccine, with the number increasing from 1,029,080 on December 30 to 1,029,094 on December 6. 17 people received their second dose during the same period. The number increased from 992,169 to 992,186. At the level of the first booster dose, they were 41 inoculated. The number increased from 240,957 to 240,998. Two children also received their second dose of the vaccine.

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