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In preparation for the re-opening of the Seychelles International Airport to commercial flights Concerned agencies conduct airport drill | 21 July 2020

In preparation for the re-opening of the Seychelles International Airport to commercial flights  Concerned agencies conduct airport drill

Guests at the check-in counter as part of the drill (Photo: Jude Morel)

The Seychelles International Airport was once again busy though not for long yesterday morning only to allow Air Seychelles, all the different concerned agencies and stakeholders to conduct an exercise to test their readiness through the new anti-COVID-19 procedures and measures to be followed once commercial flights resume on August 1, 2020.

As part of the drill, Air Seychelles conducted a simulated flight which landed with a full load of 168 passengers, including one suspected of COVID-19 infection.

Besides assessing the crew operating procedures when managing a suspected case of infectious disease on board the aircraft as per their training, the exercise also tested the response of the department of health in collaboration with the department of risk and disaster management (DRDM) as well as all other key airport stakeholders when handling such a case.

Following public health guidelines to remain alert at the airport and for possible detection of symptomatic COVID-19 passengers, upon disembarkation from the aircraft, participants proceeded to the arrival lounge where their temperature was checked by the new Hikvision fixed bullet cameras installed by the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA). The efficient thermal cameras are able to detect a high temperature in one person from one metre away.

Various scenarios which typically occur within an airport facility were also given to selected participants in advance, to further test the promptness of other stakeholders operating at the Seychelles International Airport as part of the readiness plan.

Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Minister Didier Dogley was present at the airport to witness how the different stages of the exercise fall into place.

“We are going to have more than one drill which will provide us with information as to how prepared and ready we are. We started from the beginning of the process when a passenger goes through check-in, immigration and customs. This will allow us to make sure that the measures we decided to put in place are being carried out and everybody is doing their part and are following all the different procedures as they are supposed to be doing. This will allow all of our staff to see what they are not doing right and make the necessary adjustments,” Minister Dogley pointed out.

He said the whole exercise has been monitored and notes have been taken.

“If there are any issues, there will be a follow-up meeting where we will evaluate, debrief and compare findings. If there is a need we will do another drill to test the system again after which, hopefully, we will be ready for the first flight when it happens,” Minister Dogley explained.

“What is important in this drill is that all the stakeholders are showing their true commitment and support towards the process,” Minister Dogley stressed.

He further noted that the drill forms part of a series of different measures being undertaken in the preparation for the reopening of Seychelles air space to commercial flights on August 1, 2020.

For his part, the head of operations support and transformations at Air Seychelles, Mike Mousbé commented:

“At Air Seychelles since we have operated several repatriation flights over the past months, the exercise conducted today has further provided the airline the opportunity to verify and review its procedures, ensuring all the requirements as per the standard operating procedures are being met including that of the regulator.

“It is important to note that members of our cabin crew team have also been trained on how to tend to a symptomatic COVID-19 passenger by strictly following the approved procedures set by the Seychelles’ department of health.”

SCAA chief operations officer, Wilfred Fock Tave said: “The drill was an opportunity for the Seychelles International Airport to test its new operational procedures and guidelines which have been put together through a well-coordinated efforts by an SCAA taskforce with the guidance of the health department.

“We acknowledge the importance of the opening of our borders for the country’s economy, but at the same time the safety of travellers and our staff as well as stakeholders remain our priority.

Hence, SCAA has invested in the latest temperature screening equipment, has placed sanitisation stations at the airport, put the necessary social distancing markings and we have a new testing station set up by public health inside the international arrival lounge for random testing. We are hence confident that when a passenger leaves the airport, he or she has gone through all the necessary procedures and screening at the front line,” said Mr Fock Tave.

Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN), safety and security senior disaster management officer Daniel Cetoupe explained that “the department is mandated under the Disaster Risk Management Act to conduct regular drills and exercise to test the preparedness to respond to disaster risks of sectors and the country as a whole. More so, in the current COVID-19 pandemic, Seychelles has not been spared from its effects. Therefore, with the recent announcement of opening up the country for commercial flights on August 1, the department has in collaboration with its key partners tested the new procedures and measures put in place for early detection and management of suspected COVID-19 cases and the safe entry of visitors into the country.”

He added that “following this exercise, an evaluation will be conducted and recommended actions will be put forth to improve these processes and procedures.”

 

Vidya Gappy/Air Seychelles

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