Covid-19 Update |18 December 2020
21 active cases to date
Since last Tuesday, three new cases of Covid-19 have been registered making it a total of 21 active cases and accumulated cases now rounding at 205.
One hundred and eighty-four (184) patients have recovered and among the 21 active cases 2 are Seychellois.
This announcement was made by the Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gédéon, in a press conference yesterday at the Sheikh Khalifa Diagnostic Centre. He was accompanied by the Health Care Agency chief executive, Dr Danny Louange and Anita Bonne from the Disease Surveillance and Response Unit.
Dr Gedeon revealed that the three new cases are two Israeli tourists and one Russian crew.
“The new cases are asymptomatic, one is at our hospital, one in the resort and the other one on the yacht. In total we have currently 8 people tested positive out of the 25 crew members of the yacht. There may be more of them positive, but it is too early to detect. Our focus today is on contact tracing as it is the key strategy to break the chain of transmission.”
Dr Gédéon noted that the exercise of contact tracing is being done by a team of professionals and it is time-consuming. They do hundreds of interviews, look at video footage, and look at risk assessment.
“This is an important exercise and we urge all people to write down the correct information so that it becomes easy for risk-assessment. You should prevent yourself from becoming a contact by taking preventive measures – avoid crowded places, do your social distancing and wear your mask all the time. Contact tracing, alongside with quarantine, management of cases and testing are key strategies that we continue to use to break the chain of transmission.”
Ms Bonne thoroughly explained the process of contact tracing and its importance. “Contact tracing is the process of identifying all people that a Covid-19 patient has come into contact with in the last two weeks. As soon as we find out someone is positive we start contacting the persons who have been in contact with the case. We make sure that we collect all the necessary information called the Risk Assessment and then we qualify the contacts as ‘high risk’ or ‘low risk’ contact,” Ms Bonne explained.
She also noted that it is mandatory for the Disease Surveillance and Response Unit to interview the person with a positive case.
“According to our risk assessments, the recent cases of Covid-19 show that there has been interaction in the public places. For Covid-19 contact tracing, a close contact is someone who's been within two metres of a person with Covid-19 within two days of the person's diagnosis. Close contacts can include family, friends, co-workers and health care providers.The sooner health officials can alert close contacts, the lower the risk of the Covid-19 virus spreading further. We continuously ask the public to keep wearing their masks as when we are evaluating the case, wearing of masks prevent you from being a high risk contact.”
Ms Bonne also talked about the challenges they are facing with members of the public. “Our contact tracing activity is ongoing. But it is unfortunate that when we call some contacts, the people do not want to cooperate. Do not think that we are getting in your personal life, when we call you. Actually we are helping you by preventing the spread of the virus. We are also having some challenges with some establishments by not wanting to collaborate with us when we call. We need to continue to use contact tracing to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus and we all have to abide by the health protocol. Contact tracing can be a powerful tool to help reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus and help control the Covid-19 outbreak,” explained Ms Bonne.
Following the presentation of Ms Bonne, Dr Louange stated that currently 23 contacts are in quarantine. “In total we have 89 people in quarantine at Avani, 3 at Il-di-Swet and we have 9 patients in our isolation centre out of whom two are Seychellois. Most of the patients do not have symptoms but we are following two of them closely as they were admitted with some breathing issues.”
With the number of tourists coming in the country, do we have enough PCR tests available? Dr Gédéon noted that this is one of the challenges they are facing right now. “In order to control an epidemic, we have to keep testing and this is stressing our lab – not only the staff but also our financial resources. We have to import additional tests and not all the time we can get them on time. For now we can keep up and seeing the projected number of tourists coming in, we will have to change our strategy every now and then. It is a continuous effort and we are also bringing in new machines for quicker tests.”
Dr Gédéon also stressed on the fact that the tourism establishments should inform their clients that they should not use public transport.
Dr Gédéon concluded by saying “it is very important that this time as we approach the festive season, it is important to play our role in preventing yourself from becoming a contact or a becoming a case of Covid-19. We are not telling people not to enjoy Christmas. Christmas is about the celebration of the Birth of Jesus, let’s celebrate it that way, not with a lot of parties. Let’s have a solemn celebration with our family.”