Mauritius has recorded its first death from coronavirus, the health minister said Saturday, just the third in sub-Saharan Africa, as the archipelago nation imposed a lockdown to contain the outbreak.
“There have been 14 confirmed cases so far, one of which died on Thursday evening,” Health Minister Kailesh Jagutpal said, without providing details about the deceased patient.
Mauritius, some 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) off the eastern coast of Africa, went into lockdown Friday, with the country’s citizens told to stay indoors for 14 days.
There were just three confirmed cases in Mauritius on Thursday when Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth appealed to the country’s 1.3 million citizens to obey the order.
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“I ask the people of Mauritius to stay inside their home,” he said in a televised evening address to the nation.
Flights into the Indian Ocean nation of four volcanic islands had already been severely curtailed to curb the spread of the virus, with passengers from the EU — a major market for tourists — among those barred.
Mauritius has evolved from a poor, agriculture-based economy to a relatively wealthy financial services hub and tourist beacon that prides itself as a stable democracy in a sometimes volatile neighbourhood.
Just two other deaths from coronavirus have been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa: one in Burkina Faso and the second in Gabon.
The total of known cases across all of Africa, compiled by AFP, stands at more than 900 and is rising fast after lagging other continents.
Lithuania reports first coronavirus death
Lithuania on Saturday reported its first death from the novel coronavirus, an elderly woman who may have become infected while being treated in a hospital for other illnesses.
The patient was in Ukmerge, north of the capital Vilnius, “for a number of other problems,” deputy health minister Algirdas Seselgis told reporters.
“We suspect she was infected in the hospital,” he said, adding that 160 people have been isolated over the case to track any potential carriers.
So far 69 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the Baltic European Union state of 2.8 million people.
The government has faced criticism for a slow start to testing. It said it will scale up testing next week when it receives more supplies from abroad.