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Mauritius launched its COVID-19 vaccination programme yesterday, January 26, giving priority to health care professionals, employees of the tourism industry, senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions. This is according to a press release from the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA).

The MTPA says it expects that “soon” vaccinated visitors will be able to enter Mauritius.

The objective of the vaccination campaign is to inoculate 60% of the country’s population of 1,3m to achieve herd immunity. The first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, arrived Friday, January 22 as a donation from the government of India. Doses required to complete the vaccination campaign are expected from Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer with an initial consignment approved through COVAX.

The release says the government’s objective is the restarting of the tourism sector under the safest conditions possible. Mauritius’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while admirable from a public health perspective, has taken a heavy toll on the tourism industry, which is responsible for around 24% of GDP.

Closure of borders, no short-term visitors, strict quarantine measures for returning residents and long-term stayers, and thorough testing protocols have been in place since the outbreak.

While conventional tourism has been impossible, there has been little disruption of social life in Mauritius since June 2020, with practically no known cases of community transmission, according to the Mauritian government.

Entry restrictions and quarantine requirements are expected to be eased progressively, based on how the pandemic evolves and on visitors having achieved immunity.

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