Mauritius began another national lockdown on Wednesday that will last until March 25.
It is the second lockdown since coronavirus infections were detected in the Indian Ocean archipelago a year ago and come as 14 new cases were recorded.
"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 on 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 that we will be able to resume our activities as soon as possible", the Prime Minister said.
Condemned by the opposition
The second new lockdown has been slammed by the leaders of the opposition, including the former Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, who denounced "the incompetence of the government".
But for the Deputy Prime Minister and minister of tourism Steven Obeegadoo, "the government rigorously implemented health protocols" and "Mauritius had no choice but to impose this lockdown in order to break the chain of virus transmission."
Mauritius, which has about 1.2 million inhabitants, had recorded a total of 641 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 10 deaths.
Since March 5, 2021, there have been 31 active cases identified.