Covid-19 update | 04 December 2020
‘No community transmission detected so far’
By Laura Pillay
Despite three healthcare workers contracting the Covid-19 infection, there has been no detected case of community transmission in Seychelles up until yesterday, according to Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon.
Providing further details about the Covid-19 status during the weekly press update yesterday afternoon, Dr Gedeon noted that there are presently 16 active cases, five of whom are Seychellois, inclusive of the three front line healthcare employees who were serving at quarantine facilities. The other 11 cases are visitors and Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) holders, he added, and of them, three are isolated in establishments not run by the department of health, although the department is closely monitoring them.
“I will seize this opportunity to explain that we do not have any cases of community transmission. What we have is local transmission. Of the 16 active cases that we have, three of them, which are three of our staff, is local transmission. In other words, we can call it a cluster.
“A cluster of cases could either be a local transmission or community. The difference between local and community is that community transmission is whereby cases cannot be linked to existing cases. Community transmission can be an isolated case, or widespread or spread out with many cases at the same time,” Dr Gedeon stated.
Elaborating further, Health Care Agency chief executive, Dr Danny Louange, said: “From investigations conducted by the department and contact-tracing activities, the three cases can be traced back to a particular group of visitors who arrived in the country and who tested positive upon taking the exit test. The group includes three Russians, two Seychellois and another of French nationality. As a result, 12 healthcare workers are considered to be at higher-risk of contracting the infection. Tests on family members and contacts of the employees are negative and testing will continue until the stipulated time has elapsed.”
Dr Louange further noted that front line staff are tested regularly to allow for detection at the earliest possible, in the eventuality that they do somehow contract the virus. All staff have access to the required PPE’s, he added, and it would appear that the three workers contracted the virus recently, as they are yet to develop antibodies.
With regard to quarantine, there are 13 persons under quarantine on Praslin, and a further 124 at the Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resort quarantine facility. It should be reminded that the department made the move to Avani Barbarons Seychelles Resort from Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay after the contract with the latter establishment came to an end towards the end of November.
All persons under quarantine are well and not displaying symptoms, said Dr Louange. Six persons who tested positive are at the Coastguard facility, with nine persons at the Isolation centre at the Perseverance Family Clinic, although two were scheduled to be discharged by yesterday afternoon. They too are well and not displaying any symptoms, except for one who was put on non-invasive machines for treatment after experiencing respiratory difficulties, but has since stabilised.
Over recent months, the department has steadily increased testing, and last month carried out 5374 tests. Over the past three days (until yesterday) 527 PCR tests had been carried out.
With regard to vaccines against the virus, Dr Gedeon provided an overview of some of the most promising vaccines thus far, including the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine which has been proven to be 95 percent effective in trials and which is now being distributed to the United Kingdom (UK), the first country to approve the vaccine.
Similarly to other countries, the department is working on a vaccination roll-out plan, with priority categories for persons more at risk of contracting the virus. These include senior and elderly citizens, citizens with chronic illnesses and health related conditions, leaders and decision makers, healthcare workers from both public and private health facilities, essential service staff, airport and sea port employees, judiciary staff, employees of the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC).