Seychelles and COVID-19: Commercial flight lock-down arrives, as nearly every int'l flight is suspended
Sri Lankan Airline will repatriate visitors on March 28. (Joena Bonnelame, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Every international flight carrying passengers to and from Seychelles except for one will be suspended as of this weekend amidst the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
The only international flight remaining to and from the island nation will be Air Seychelles' flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.
There are 12 international airlines with connecting flight to Seychelles. Eight have already cancelled their flights: Air Mauritius, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Air France, Etihad Airways and Edelweiss Air.
Kenya Airways and Air Austral will make their last flights on March 26 and 27, respectively, Qatar Airways on Friday, while Condor and SriLankan Airline will repatriate visitors on March 28.
The national carrier, Air Seychelles, will be making three flights per week to Johannesburg, South Africa and cancelling all flights to Mumbai, India and Mauritius.
The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority said that although flights will not be carrying passengers, Seychelles' airport will remain operational for other purposes such as medical evacuation, cargo operations, emergency landing, humanitarian and technical landing.
In answering a private notice question in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Finance Minister Maurice Loustau-Lalanne said that the measures taken are to prevent people who have contracted the virus from entering the country.
"We have legally banned all Seychellois from travelling outside of Seychelles and all foreigners coming from a country with a high infection rate will not be allowed to enter the country," he said.
In the latest travel advisory from the Department of Health, all returning Seychellois citizens from China, including the SAR, South Korea, Iran and any country in Europe, including the French Departments of Reunion and Mayotte, the U.S and Australia will be placed under obligatory quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Loustau-Lalanne said that since Seychelles closed its border to European visitors causing a drastic drop in arrivals, "we expect that this will continue as other countries close their borders and airline companies reduces their services."
Seven patients have tested positive for COVID-19 in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. The patients are three Seychellois and four foreigners and are all in the isolation treatment centre at the Family Hospital at Perseverance, a man-made island.