PORT LOUIS: Mauritius on Wednesday went into a two-week nationwide lockdown, the second time the Indian Ocean archipelago nation has imposed such a restriction since the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago.
"We had no other choice but total containment in order to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the population," Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth announced Tuesday evening in a televised address.
"This containment became necessary after the appearance of four new local positive cases of Covid-19, bringing to 14 the number of local positive cases registered since March 5."
Only essential services will be operational from Wednesday, including the port, airport, hospital services and emergency relief.
As of Thursday, supermarkets, bakeries, petrol stations and pharmacies will be accessible on an alphabetical rotation basis.
"I am sure we will be able to resume our activities as soon as possible," Jugnauth said.
The latest lockdown follows one imposed in March 2020 in the island nation of 1.3 million.
Opposition leaders blamed the government for incompetence but Deputy Prime Minister Steven Obeegadoo said they had "rigorously implemented the health protocols".
"Mauritius had no choice but to impose this containment in order to break the chain of transmission of the virus," he said.
As of March 7, Mauritius had registered a total of 641 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 10 deaths and 40 active cases.