Mauritius imposed a two-week lockdown starting Wednesday as it tries to contain a growing number of COVID-19 cases.

Restrictions will remain in force until March 25, according to a government statement.

It said the lockdown was “necessary and expedient for the purposes of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Mauritius.”

The notification came after Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s televised address on Tuesday night, in which he said the country “had no other choice.”

He stressed that the nationwide confinement was to “protect the population” after four more local COVID-19 cases were detected in the country.

The new infections raised to 14 the number of local cases registered in Mauritius since March 5.

As of March 7, the overall case count in the country stood at 641, including 10 deaths and 590 recoveries, according to official data.

Only essential businesses – markets, pharmacies, bakeries, and petrol stations – and services – port, airport, and hospitals – will be open in the country from Wednesday.

People exempt from the lockdown include employees of public and private sector organizations providing essential services, medical practitioners, government and judicial employees, and people out for medical care or to buy essential items.

Any person found violating the rules can face a fine of up to 500,000 Mauritian rupees ($12,500) and a jail term of up to five years, according to the statement.

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