Update on COVID-19 situation in Seychelles | 15 July 2020
73 active cases
The health department has confirmed that there are presently 73 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, 67 of which comprise the seafarers on the Spanish vessels quarantined outside Port Victoria and the remaining six are the Seychellois citizens who tested positive a week ago.
Meanwhile, 24 out of the initial 91 seafarers who were infected with the virus have recovered and public health commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, noted that around 30 more seafarers are being reclassified and it is anticipated that most of them will also test negative this week.
“To date, the public health lab has conducted 400 tests on the seafarers since last week and we are happy that many who tested positive have recovered and are testing negative. We could have less than 50 active cases by Wednesday,” Dr Gedeon said in a press conference yesterday at the Sheikh Khalifa Diagnostic Centre.
“The situation is looking promising and we continue to work with the shipping agents to ensure that positive cases onboard the vessels are properly managed,” he said.
In total Seychelles has recorded 108 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak, 11 of which were during its first wave in March and April 2020.
Dr Gedeon highlighted that none of the seafarers developed any symptoms of COVID-19 except for the two who were admitted to the Persévérance Family Hospital. Since then, one has been discharged and the other is recovering really well.
Due to the recoveries, several Spanish vessels have received the go-ahead to move out of the quarantine zone after everyone onboard were confirmed COVID-19 negative. Only six vessels remain in the quarantine zone – four which are represented by Seaward and two by Hunt Deltel.
Health Care Agency chief executive Dr Danny Louange detailed that there are presently 142 persons in quarantine, 82 of whom are high-risk contacts of the six COVID-19 positive Seychellois while the remaining 60 are Seychellois who were repatriated back home.
He noted that there are also three persons at the family hospital – placed in a separate wing from the COVID-19 patients – who are awaiting their confirmation tests after showcasing mild symptoms of the virus.
It was further revealed yesterday that face masks will become compulsory for all visitors at the Seychelles Hospital as from July 20, with the aim of protecting patients whose health is already compromised.
“We are encouraging the public to wear a mask where social distancing is not possible but this should be a general rule in public places,” Dr Gedeon reiterated.
Persons who have been in proximity of those in the first line of contact are considered as second contacts and are in the ‘safe zone’ until such a time when a first line contact is tested positive.
Health department and Air Seychelles are working towards organising a flight to Sri Lanka on July 23 to bring Seychellois patients to the South-East Asian island for further medical treatment. It is yet to be seen if this same flight could potentially repatriate Seychellois, presently in Sri Lanka, who have completed their treatment.
In regards to some repatriation flights that were cancelled, Dr Louange stated that “the last repatriation flight came in on July 12 but we have put repatriations on hold for the moment because all of the quarantine facilities are full.”
With 142 persons presently in quarantine and around 140 rooms available, Dr Louange said that the health department does not have enough rooms to accommodate additional persons coming in on repatriation flights.
Both doctors however noted that the health department might have to look at acquiring additional quarantine facilities when and if the needs call for it, but this is problematic since this would include additional expenses and human resource.
Dr Louange also touched on the subject of two pregnant Kenyan nurses who were amongst 45 nurses who arrived in Seychelles in May to boost human resource within the health department. He noted that the health department has discussed with Kenyan authorities to have them flown back to Kenya when possible.
At this moment they are not working with COVID-19 related cases.
As for the country’s preparedness for the reopening of its borders, only 160 have put in their applications to be certified and just over 40 have been certified although there are over 700 tourism establishments.
The date for resumption of commercial flights has been set for August 1.
“Medical private practitioners also have to prepare for the new normal and reopening of borders. At the moment, only five of the 20 private practitioners have submitted their preparedness matrix while 12 out of 25 pharmacies have done so,” Dr Gedeon stated.
“It shows that a lot of medical practices in the private sector are not ready and they need to ensure that they are,” Dr Gedeon added.
Yesterday’s panel also consisted of a public health officer working in the rapid response unit, Anita Bonne, who explained the health department’s contact tracing exercises.
She noted that contact tracing exercises prioritise persons who were in first line contact with the infected individual, who are immediately put in home isolation and quarantine facilities.