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Stricter measures in place to curb spread of Covid-19 | 04 January 2021

Stricter measures in place to curb spread of Covid-19

The emergency meeting of the Platinum committee on Covid-19 yesterday at State House (Photo: Thomas Meriton)

By Laura Pillay

 

A series of additional measures against the spread of Covid-19 were yesterday announced by President Wavel Ramkalawan and Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon, following an emergency meeting of the Platinum committee on Covid-19 at State House.

During a live televised address before midday, Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon announced that there are a total of 297 Covid-19 cases, of which 83 are active. Of the 83, 46 are Seychellois, while the rest are foreign nationals.

Thus far, the department of health has identified at least four different clusters, or at least four unrelated sources of infection, although it does not appear to be the more virulent strains of the virus which is going around the world currently.

Dr Gedeon also clarified that the health worker who passed away over the weekend died of causes other than Covid-19.

“During recent times, yesterday we recorded 12 positive cases, and the majority of cases are persons with symptoms, which when we analyse in depth, it is strongly possible that there are many cases within the community who are not manifesting symptoms, and who could be circulating around, which is why we need to implement additional measures,” Dr Gedeon explained.

As per the Public Health order drafted by the Attorney General, these conditions apply for the next 10 days;

  • All standalone restaurants are to remain closed. Restaurants associated with hotels and guesthouses are to be used only by clients being accommodated in such facilities.
  • All mobile catering vans and takeaway outlets are to remain closed. Such businesses can still prepare and sell food on an order basis.
  • All sporting activities are suspended, although members within the same family can exercise together.
  • All retail outlets are to remain closed, except for grocery store. Hardware outlets may remain open on condition that operating hours are limited to 12pm.
  • Limitation of movement between islands. Persons are being asked not to travel to and from Praslin and La Digue, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Stricter conditions for inbound visitors. Instead of being confined to their certified establishment for five days before taking a PCR test, visitors will now be confined for 10 days before taking the test, further limiting their movement.
  • Public service employees are to work from home if possible or unless categorised as essential services.
  • Stricter enforcement of public health measures. Police and military are to step up efforts to ensure compliance with the public health guidelines.
  • All hospital visitations and visitations to elderly and care homes are banned.
  • Outbound travel is not advised, although not prohibited.
  • Large construction companies are to ensure employees limit movement to work and residences.

As explained by Dr Gedeon, the measures take effect immediately and do not supersede measures imposed last week by the department. Such measures apply for 10 days until January 13, whereby the way forward will be decided, based upon the situation at the time.

President Ramkalawan called on the population to act responsibly and to be part of the solution to the problem the country is faced with, in the interest of the population and domestic economy, as the number of detected cases continues to increase.

“I would like to tell the people of Seychelles that the situation is bad, and that there will be new measures. The number of Covid-19 cases being detected is increasing daily, and over recent days, we are recording on average 10 cases per day. We need to over the next ten days, put the spread under control. Luckily, Praslin and La Digue have for the moment been spared of community transmission, so it is our responsibility to protect these two islands,” the President stated, asserting the importance of adhering to public health guidelines to curb the number of new infections.

The President also spoke of the ongoing work to acquire two additional types of vaccines, namely, the Moderna Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines for a mass vaccination campaign. Currently, the department has 50,000 SINOPHARM vaccines, donated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and more sponsors are stepping up to assist the ministry with financial resources to acquire more vaccines.

“With the two other vaccines, we hope to vaccinate our population at the soonest possible. The vaccine will be important and to show the importance, the moment that we start administering vaccines, I as the president, will lead by example, and will be the first person to be vaccinated, and I hope that this will give the population the confidence that we need to protect ourselves and our population,” President Ramkalawan added.

To assist the health department in implementing the public health orders in place, the Seychelles Police Force and Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) are stepping up efforts towards ensuring that people act in accordance with public health measures, he added.

 

Laura Pillay

 

 

 

 

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