Mauritius on Tuesday began vaccinations against Covid-19. It is a crucial step for the country as it moves to revive its hard-hit tourism sector.
The first to receive the jab was an on-duty doctor at Victoria Hospital, in the central town of Quatre-Bornes. About 100 other medical staff are expected to be inoculated on Tuesday.
The Health Ministry said the campaign would initially target staff treating patients with Covid-19, and workers meeting passengers at the airport. The first 100,000 doses of the vaccines were donated by India.
Mauritius, with a population of 1.3 million, has officially recorded 568 cases and 10 deaths since the start of the pandemic. But the economic cost has been severe for the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, which heavily depends on its tourism sector.
On Friday, health Minister Kailesh Jagutpal said that the country plans to vaccinate 60 percent of its population in 2021 in the hope of kick-starting economic activity and its tourism sector.
“The vaccination campaign will enable Mauritius to review the conditions of entry of passengers to Mauritius and allow the tourism sector, which was the economic sector most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to restart”, he said.
Visitors to Mauritius must undergo a mandatory test for Covid-19 before quarantining for two weeks.
Foreign Minister Nandkumar Bodha said some 200,000 additional doses of vaccine are expected to arrive from India by the end of March.
He also said Mauritius had purchased 240,000 doses of vaccine through the Covax program. It is an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and private partners for the even distribution of vaccines.