Seychelles and COVID-19: Int'l airport closed until end of April, new 11th case identified
The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure. (State House)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' international airport will remain closed until end of April while new maritime surveillance will be applied in the island nation, two measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, President Danny Faure said on Monday.
Faure, in an address to the nation, said that "as of yesterday, we recorded only 10 patients that have tested positive here in Seychelles. Unfortunately, today we registered a new case."
The first Seychellois patient who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 14 and a Dutch woman, who tested positive on March 15 have overcome the disease, having consistently tested negative on more than two occasions, said the President.
In extending a special word of encouragement for the health workers at the treatment centre at Perseverance, Faure said the government remains committed to taking care of those workers.
"We have identified accommodation where all health workers working directly with patients and those in the quarantine centre will be able to stay. This is to eliminate the risk for their family and loved ones during this period. Before the end of April, we will see the arrival of medical workers from Kenya who will be here for a period of three months. They will provide some respite for our health workers," he added.
The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, said that "if we all continue to obey the measures in place, continue to practise preventive measures in line with the guidance from the Department of Health and we get through this month with no evidence of community transmission of this illness, we will be able to lift certain measures and re-open schools in the first week of May."
On the new maritime surveillance, Faure said that this will protect the Seychellois people from arrival of this illness by sea.
"With COVID-19 in the region, it is essential that we stop infected people from entering Seychelles who could spread the virus among our population. During the month of April, no yachts will have the right to enter our territory," he said.
He added further that "we will also reinforce our maritime surveillance so that we know where vessels are located at any given moment and if there are any boats entering our territory. Subsequently, it will be mandatory that tracking systems, such as VMS (vessel monitoring system), on all vessels, stay on at all times. If this equipment is turned off at any moment, it will be a punishable offence under the law. This measure takes immediate effect."
Faure spoke of the increasing economic damage the COVID-19 pandemic is making and that Seychelles, with an economy that is completely connected to the global economy, will not be spared.
"It means that with our floating exchange rate regime, we expect the foreign exchange rate to go up and foreign currency to become more expensive. This will have a direct impact on our cost of living. As a result, it is critical that we reconsider our spending to reduce the pressure on the demand for foreign exchange at the individual, commercial and governmental levels," he said.
The President said the Minister of Finance, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, will present an amended budget for 2020 to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
"This is a budget that reconsiders and reprioritises government spending for this year in light of the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have nothing to hide. As I said, Seychelles has entered an exceptional period. We are facing a new economic reality that necessitates new measures," he explained.
Faure said it is critical that "we all understand that we are in an emergency situation where every minute, every hour, and every day counts. I hope that the National Assembly approves this budget before Easter."
With the new measures being taken, there are many employees and employers looking for clarity and to provide the necessary information, as from Tuesday, the Department of Employment will have a special office on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
The President said that difficult times should also be time for solidarity and called upon all proprietors renting homes and commercial spaces not to increase rental prices and where it is possible, to consider reducing the rental prices.
Faure expressed appreciation for the support that society as a whole is to all partners involved in this difficult time and also thanked the great number of people and private businesses that are offering to help the Department of Health in various ways.
He concluded in saying that "for our Christians, this is the first time ever that we will not able to gather during Holy Week. I thank you all for your understanding and sacrifice. I wish all our Christian brothers and sisters a restful period of reflection and peaceful contemplation during this Holy Week and a happy Easter."