Fight against COVID-19 | 25 March 2020
Assembly leaders call for community engagement, country close down to better contain spread of virus
The two leaders in the National Assembly yesterday called for more community engagement and commitment as well as a complete close down of the country for 14 days to allow the concerned authorities to better organise the different measures to address and contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
For his part, the Speaker of the National Assembly Nicholas Prea has called on members of the public not to panic but to follow all health directives provided by the department of health and to stop circulating false information and fake news to create panic and fear among the population.
“Let us all unite and show compassion towards others,” Speaker Prea stressed.
The leader of government business Charles de Commarmond commended the country’s leadership and the committee set up to coordinate measures and effort to better address and deal with the COVID-19 situation nationally. He noted that the exceptional time the country is going through calls for exceptional measures to be taken and he has appealed for more community engagement which is where the population engages and commits itself more to the work being done to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
He commended the pro-active approach by different groups, namely churches which have not waited for any lockdown to heed health directives to practice social distancing by quickly stopping mass and other social gatherings in churches and other religious venues. He has appealed to private organisations and non-governmental bodies to also make their contributions. He stressed that in order to better address and overcome the situation at hand, we need to be united as a nation with a convergent instead of divergent approach.
“It is important that during this difficult time everybody takes his or her responsibility seriously to contribute in the success of all national efforts and measures to deal with the virus,” said Mr De Commarmond.
He has called on employers to reach out to their employees and show more understanding and compassion during this trying time.
Mr De Commarmond noted that all concerns and worries brought to his attention by different groups being impacted by the effects of the pandemic have been brought to the attention of concerned authorities.
He noted that a change in behaviour of our people is key for the measures to succeed and said his greatest wish is for us to defeat the virus in a united manner.
When he expressed himself on the matter, the leader of the opposition, Wavel Ramkalawan noted that the COVID-19 is very active as a virus and as a result our approach towards it should be very serious and people should follow all medical advice to the letter, but not take it lightly and continue with their social activities which is a very dangerous attitude.
“We all need to listen to medical experts. Meeting in groups to play dominoes, for social gatherings on the beach should all stop,” Mr Ramkalawan appealed to all Seychellois.
He noted that although the number of people infected by the virus still stands at seven and those infected are getting better while those in quarantine are testing negative and are gradually being released, we should not be complacent as a nation and believe everything is OK on all fronts. But rather we should reinforce our guard through another level of protection to bring more clarity and order in the country and this is through a lockdown on all activities in the country where everybody stays at home for a minimum of 14 days.
Mr Ramkalawan noted that he had a meeting with President Danny Faure early Monday morning during which they discussed and agreed on different measures related to COVID-19, notably on the need for a change in the behaviour of our people and we also addressed the need for a close down, but Mr Faure sees things differently. He said they also agreed that COVID-19 should never become a political issue but remain a national concern.
“But I am satisfied that I presented him with all the arguments, now it remains for him as head of State and all the experts concerned to take the final decisions. But I am convinced that Seychelles needs a complete close down because with different measures scattered here and there is more of a danger because people are not listening to advice,” said Mr Ramkalawan.
He said when people are grounded in their homes this will reduce the spread of the virus through people contacts, people will not expose themselves to be infected, a close down will reduce pressure on health professionals allowing them space to do their job better with better results as resources will be put to better use.
“We cannot deny that the country is at present in a state of disarray as different government departments, private organisations, businesses and agencies each applying their own measures in different ways, some services remain open while others have closed down. Is this not happening because we are not on the same page, there is no standard directives? We need one straight directive to be followed by everybody,” said Mr Ramkalawan who also noted that amidst all the disarray there are also different measures which create more confusion.
Also with the confusion related to annual leave, it is clear that a close down will serve to make things clearer and businesses will have time to plan and organise themselves better for post COVID-19.
He stressed that it is more than high time to take decisions that will give people confidence as to what direction the country is going.
Mr Ramkalawan has also called on the government to set up a fund through which all businesses and companies which have benefitted the most from the country’s economy to make a contribution which would go towards alleviating the plight of those who are the most vulnerable.
He also called on the government not to take risks believing things would be OK but to take wise and brave decisions which would protect our people and our country.
Marie Anne Lepathy