Health department talks about precautions it will take once frontier re-opens |24 June 2020
The department of health held its weekly press conference yesterday where the Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, and the chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Dr Danny Louange, discussed the resumption of passenger flights to Seychelles as from August 1.
“Two weeks ago a meeting was held with public health and the private sector and we established a task force to deal with the re-opening of the frontier and we came up with certain recommendations that we have given to the president and the concerned departments,” said Dr Gedeon.
He added that the department of health presented the national framework for integrated management of the re-opening of Seychelles which is a structure on how to administer the re-opening of the country.
Using a map of the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, Dr Gedeon noted that over 9 million people have been infected by the virus so far which has resulted in over half a million deaths worldwide.
He added that new cases are still being detected which shows that the number of people getting the virus is increasing every day.
Dr Gedeon added that a lot of countries are making progress by getting their infection rates to go down but there is still a long way to go for others,” said Dr Gedeon.
In regard to this information, the Public Health Authority evaluated the risk of different countries. Five criteria were observed while doing this which included: trend of outbreak, potential of infection, pattern of testing, infections during the last month and type of data regarding COVID-19 in that country.
“Based on these criteria, we were able to classify countries as low, medium and high-risk countries and we were able to determine which country is safe to receive tourist from and what are the procedures they must do before entering Seychelles,” said Dr Gedeon.
The commissioner added that a lot of countries where we usually get our influx of tourists from are currently under medium risk.
To deal with the incoming visitors the public health department has put in place three filters.
Filter number one will be testing; before entering the country there are tests that the person must undergo. Tourists from medium risk countries will have to take a PCR test 72 hours prior, while people from low risk countries will have to do an Antigen test 48 hours prior. While in transit a second Antigen test will be conducted and once they land a third one as well as screening will be conducted.
The second filter will be booking, which will be done through travel agents and the tourists must have their booking vouchers with them to show where they will be staying and the establishment where they will be staying must have the necessary diligence and hygiene.
During the first 14 days the visitors will also be tracked as they will not go in quarantine due to the many tests that will have been conducted beforehand.
“All touristic establishments will have to have a detailed account of where their guest have been, we will be introducing a QR code which tourism establishments can scan in the instance that a tourist contracts the virus and the health department will be alerted,” said Dr Gedeon.
The third filter will include the way that the stay will be organised such as flight safety, a safe facility where they will be residing and safe checking procedure where daily temperature check will be conducted.
The framework will be based on three pillars; health protection, cooperation of the community and economic responses.
On his part Dr Louange noted that currently there are 48 people in quarantine at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort & Casino and 17 diplomats have been placed under home quarantine. These are people that were left stranded and have been repatriated.
The doctor also noted that training is being conducted for staff working in the isolation centre.
When it comes to services that the health department is offering, Dr Louange stated that they are being continued.
“Many physicians have gone back to the clinics and we are also opening back specialised clinics in Beau Vallon, Anse Boileau and English River health centres,” said Dr Louange.
He also announced that the Kenyan professionals that arrived in the country at the beginning of May have all been registered. They include forty-five nurses, one doctor, one specialist in logistic, two public health officers and one lab technician. Dr Louange noted that they have been placed on the front line and in schools and they will also manage the triage centre. They will also work closely with the infection prevention control.
Regarding the COVID-19 PCR tests, Dr Louange noted that Seychellois will not pay for the COVID tests; however, foreigners who are being repatriated in their country will have to pay for their tests.
One test can cost $200 and one patient will need multiple tests in order to make sure that the results are accurate. When this is added up to all the other costs, the total can come to R6,000 plus.
Dr Louange said that they are evaluating the cost, but noted that they must recover the money that they are putting into the service.
Dr Louange also took the time to showcase the different types of mask that will be available to the public and also explained how to use them.