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Re-opening of airport will target private jets and chartered flights | 27 May 2020

Re-opening of airport will target private jets and chartered flights

Dr Gedeon and Dr Louange during their meeting with the press yesterday (Photo: Joena Meme)

Following several discussions and risk analysis, the department of health, along with other key partners, has decided that resumption of commercial flights at the International Airport on Monday June 1 will begin primarily with the arrivals of private jets and chartered flights.

The idea is to minimise or better manage the risks of a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) since private jets and chartered flights travel from point A to B, carrying a limited number or selected passengers, compared to commercials flights.

Public Health Commissioner Dr Jude Gedeon made the statement yesterday afternoon during his routine press conference to update members of the public on the situation of the COVID-19 in the country and around the world.

Worldwide, an observatory study done by European private jet charter operator Globe Air found that transiting passenger terminals at airports and flying on a commercial airliner creates around 270 possible person-to-person interactions where one could be exposed to coronavirus versus fewer than 20 on private flights.

That research doesn’t even account for bacteria, germs, and fungi that could be lurking on the surfaces of aircraft cabins.

Dr Gedeon explained that once in the country, the visitors will not go to random hotels, but rather to specific resorts, preferably island establishments, while those on Mahé will have to abide by certain strict criteria set by the departments of health and tourism.

As for the visitors, they will also have to follow certain guidelines, including a prohibition on leaving their respective resorts, or hotels and also they will have to produce evidence of a COVID-19 test carried out less than 48 hours prior to boarding.

Antigen test will also be carried out on some of the visitors.

As for the commercial or scheduled flights, they will resume in mid-July or early August.

Locally, Dr Gedeon said the department of health will issue a guideline with necessary precautions to local businesses, including gyms and casinos on how to go about with their operations once the restrictions are removed.

He also commended the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) on its new setup at the airport to ensure smooth operations when the airport re-opens for commercial purpose.

The public health commissioner also added that they are still encouraging people to put their travel plans on hold since the risks are still very high, while those who insist to travel will have to pay their quarantine fees prior to travelling.

This, he said, will be a fee of approximately R1800, depending on the exchange rate.

Also present at yesterday’s press conference was chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Dr Danny Louange who gave an update regarding the quarantine facilities and other related institutions.

Dr Louange explained that there are presently 90 people in quarantine, all being passengers of the repatriation flight which brought home patients and attendants from various international health facilities, as well as local residents who were stranded in those countries.

There are presently 80 occupants at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort, while Perseverance Isolation Centre is hosting ten people who underwent surgery. This he said will ease their quarantine period since the nature of their treatment prevents them from using the stairs.

As for the Dutch couple who underwent treatment locally, Dr Louange said necessary procedures are underway with their insurance company to settle their bill which has amounted to approximately R600,000.

 

Roland Duval

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