Rapid response team’s work explained | 21 August 2020
The efforts and work of the rapid response team dealing with Covid-19 was brought to the forefront yesterday during the bi-weekly health press conference.
Drs Domique Tirant and Sanjeev Pagazhendi yesterday provided an overview of the rapid response team’s (RRT) work and explained the procedures undertaken to identify and verify a potential Covid-19 case.
Falling under the overarching umbrella of the disease surveillance and response unit (DRSU), the rapid response team is a multi-disciplinary team presently comprising 11 Seychellois doctors.
Dr Sanjeev noted that this however might change depending on the situation.
“The individuals on the team share their respective skills and work together to stop the spread of Covid and community transmissions. This is the core of our function,” explained Dr Tirant.
“It is divided into three fundamental principles. The first focuses on the public health aspect which identifies potential cases through alerts, takes samples and does contact tracing. The other is for clinical management which offers patients the first clinical help and treatment at home or wherever they may be before further steps are taken. We also offer training to health professionals, frontliners and other stakeholders, as well as personal training for ourselves to ensure that we remain up to date with the prevention guidelines.”
The team receives alerts regarding symptoms linked to Covid-19 on a daily basis.
“The persons on the team are working around the clock, 24/7, and are always ready to respond,” Dr Tirant added.
The RTT however does not operate in a vacuum and liaises with multiple partners such as the police force and relevant authorities at ports of entries.
In regards to how the RTT takes up a potential Covid-19 case when a person meets the case definition, Dr Tirant explained that the team may receive an alert either via the 141 hotline number, through health care facilities or through direct phone calls from the potentially infected person.
All alerts go through a system of analysis and from there the team will have a phone conversation with the person under investigation (PUI).
Following this investigation, a team will be deployed to the PUI for further investigations if there is merit.
“If the person is in a healthcare setting, the PUI would already be in an isolation area. When we get there, we will be in our personal protective equipment but we try to be as discreet as possible to avoid raising an alarm,” highlighted Dr Tirant.
“We will do our investigation, talk to the patient and make the patient feel at ease. If need be, we transfer the patient to the specialised facility situated at Perseverance.”
“If the PUI is clinically stable and doing well, we can then decide whether to allow the patient to go home and stay at home until the tests results come in.”
The transfers are always undertaken using an ambulance.
Some of the challenges the RTT faces include the stigma attached to the RTT and people wearing PPEs.
“I would like to reassure the public that we maintain all infectious prevention measures, we are professional in what we do and there is no reason to think that the person we are coming to see is definitely a positive case, it is just somebody who has met the case definition,” Dr Tirant elaborated.
The pandemic experience has been quite a hectic and adventurous journey for the RTT, especially for some of the young doctors, but one which has allowed them to learn a lot along the way.
On his part, Dr Sanjeev called on members of the public to support the RTT in its endeavours as well as not to stigmatise patients who had been tested positive.
“Once we discharge them, we are satisfied and confident they no longer have the virus to infect others. Do not be afraid of the person because they are no longer shedding the virus.”
Dr Sanjeev also noted that there have been cases where some persons have embarked on an airplane to Seychelles without taking a PCR test as required and if there are any such similar situations the persons will have to be quarantined and tested at their own expense.
This applies to both Seychellois and foreigners.