Seychelles to perform random COVID-19 tests to gauge infection's presence
(Seychelles News Agency) - Random tests for COVID-19 will be done on the population of Seychelles over the next several weeks to determine whether there have been infections through community transmission, said a top health official
"This is called a prevalence test. People will be chosen at random to find out if they have any signs of antibodies, which will give us an indication whether or not there has been community transmission," Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon told a press conference on Thursday.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has not recorded any new positive cases of the virus since April 5. The island nation has had 11 positive cases of COVID-19, but 10 patients have recovered and one remains at the isolation centre at Perseverance.
The chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange, said, "One patient was discharged. The one still in isolation is doing extremely well with no sign of symptoms. He is undergoing physical and psychological rehabilitation until the test is negative."
He added that as the "situation has improved we are giving our staff the opportunity to take their time off. We are also taking this opportunity to conduct more training to support our health workers."
There are currently 71 foreigners in quarantine facilities and these include health professionals from Kenya, health experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a group of police officers from Botswana.
On the current situation elsewhere, Gedeon gave an overview of the COVID-19 in the world, in particular in Europe, where the majority of visitors to Seychelles come from. He said since the beginning of May there has been a downward trend of positive cases.
He said that some countries such as New Zealand, Israel and Austria are showing low figures of positive cases.
"These countries are already talking to each other on how to restart their tourism industry. It is showing us that there are possibilities to explore for travel. We are in a better position than others to start discussions with those countries to kick-start our tourism industry," he added.
The Public Health Commissioner said Seychelles has entered into the 'new normal' phase since Monday and the focus on prevention is to flatten the curve of infection.
"We are working closely with different sectors to implement certain guidelines. The guidelines in some places are working perfectly, whereas some needs to put in more effort," he said.
"I know that a lot of things were not working perfectly at the beginning, but now the objective is to continuously work with different sectors to do things better. All measures taken are for prevention purposes. It is not because there are no other confirmed cases in the country that we need to enjoy," said Gedeon.
He concluded saying that this weekend will be the first since the easing of restriction that "people can go out after a long time. I know the beaches will be full and people will be able to do their leisure activities but keep the principles in mind always."
The easing on the restriction of movement is being done under three pillars: vigilance, physical distancing and hygiene.