Southern and Eastern Africa COVID-19 Digest

Situation Report
Seychelles — Trends

Surge in COVID-19 infections after the country was declared virus free

  • First case: 14 March

  • Total cases: 77 (as of 28 June 2020)

  • Total deaths: 0

  • Schools: Reopened in mid-May.

  • Flights/Borders: Airport and borders reopened on 1 june.

  • Containment measures: Most restrictions are now lifted, with specific guidances to prevent transmissions.

Situation:

After several weeks of not having registered any new COVID-19 infections, at least 66 seafarers have tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Seychelles on 23 June. The seafarers were part of the new crew members assigned to rotate with staff aboard Spanish fishing vessels who had been more than six months in the Seychelles. The new crew had reportedly tested negative for the virus during an exit screening conducted three days prior to their departure from Senegal and Ivory Coast. The seafarers who have tested positive have been isolated on a dedicated ship of the fishing fleet for monitoring by the onboard doctor. Those in need of treatment will be transferred to Mahe, Seychelles’ main island, for treatment. According to the Government, the situation is under control and no plans have been made to postpone the reopening of the country’s international airport to commercial flights scheduled for 1 August.

As announced by President Danny Faure, all restrictions on the movement of people were removed from 4 May, while most services and businesses are now allowed to operate, with specific guidance to be followed by some sectors. Religious services are also allowed, following guidance from the Department of Health. Day-care services resumed on 11 May, while all primary and secondary schools reopened on 18 May. Although the National Assembly approved a non-binding motion calling on the Government to keep the borders closed to visitors until the COVID-19 pandemic is controlled worldwide, the airport resumed activities on 1 June. Tourism businesses in Seychelles will reportedly be required to acquire a safe tourism certificate as the country plans to reactivate the sector and attract visitors, according to media reports. The country expects to receive tourists in chartered flights. These visitors will be expected to test for COVID-19 and will not be allowed to leave their resorts.

Response:

  • The Government announced it will be cut non-essential spending across most ministries, departments and agencies by introducing measures such as placing a freeze on recruitment, restricting travel and reducing allowances. With the cancellation of several festivals and delaying the national census to 2021, the resources saved will be used to finance the construction of an isolation center, increase actual quarantine capacity and other health-related projects.

  • Financial assistance will reportedly be provided to businesses to ensure that all their employees are paid in April, May and June 2020.

Official sources:

Seychelles State House Official Twitter and Ministry of Health webpage  

Additional restrictions of movement in Seychelles, by State House on 16 April

Presidential address on COVID-19 situation on 14 April

Other links:

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, by UNESCO

COVID-19 World Travel Restrictions, by the Emergency Division of the World Food Programme (WFP)

Global COVID-19 Airport Status, by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

Policy Response to COVID-19, by IMF

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