US $1.9m contingency plan for Covid-19 gets government support | 12 March 2020
By Elsie Pointe
The department of health’s US $1.9 million contingency plan to deal with novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has garnered full support from the cabinet of ministers.
The contingency plan, which took a while to finalise, was yesterday presented to cabinet and seeks to address how to prepare for and manage the spread of Covid-19 in Seychelles.
According to public health commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, it is now unrealistic to believe that Covid-19 will not reach our shores since it is only a matter of when and not if.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has surpassed 100,000 and as of Tuesday, March 10, has affected 104 countries.
Developed with the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Seychelles’ Covid-19 contingency plan reinforces present measures that are already being undertaken by the department of health.
The government has pledged a total of R5 million to be released immediately to the department of health’s Covid-19 response plan.
“The President has said that the government will immediately commit R5 million to the plan that was presented and this is a big deal. We were already making use of resources in our annual budget and the R5 million will go a long way in boosting our current efforts to roll out the plan,” Dr Gedeon noted yesterday.
Organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are also making available financial aid to assist countries in tackling Covid-19, Dr Gedeon added.
Seychelles’ contingency plan covers elements such as human resource, medical resource and procurement of equipment.
The plan maps out the necessary coordinated actions and rapid response measures to control and contain the spread of Covid-19 in Seychelles.
It also acknowledges the importance of educating the public on Covid-19, capacity building and training of the rapid response team and the engagement of Red Cross Seychelles to better respond to the epidemic.
In order to better detect any possible Covid-19 cases at point of entry, the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) has commissioned four additional thermal scanners to be used at the Seychelles International Airport.
“It is important to note that Seychelles does not have any confirmed cases but we are on high alert and responding to any alert,” Dr Gedeon highlighted yesterday.
“We hope that we do not get any Covid-19 cases but when we evaluate how the situation is evolving across the globe, we know that it will reach Seychelles at one point or another. This is why we have to be fully prepared at all time to react to these cases and undertake containment to ensure it does not spread,” Dr Gedeon added.
He further urged Seychellois to support the department of health’s medical staff who are presently working hard “in the background” and who might be working even harder when the epidemic reaches Seychelles.
According to Dr Gedeon, the department of health and other relevant agencies undertook a risk benefit analysis and it was resolved inadvisable for Seychelles to cut itself off from the outside world since, aside from the economical impact, this would bring about a lack in medical provisions and basic commodities.
“Around 60% of our economy depends on the tourism industry and we have seen that, without Seychelles even imposing travel bans, there have been a lot of cancellations and flights have been coming in almost empty. If we were to put additional bans, it will be another drastic decrease in tourist arrivals.”
“It is no longer the time for us to shut ourselves off from the world and say that it will not reach Seychelles; if someone believes that then they are dreaming because it is not realistic,” Dr Gedeon said.
Dr Gedeon was speaking in the presence of secretary of state for health Marie-Pierre Lloyd, chief executive of the Health Care Agency Dr Danny Louange and director general for public health Dr Meggy Louange.