After 9 weeks of battling tirelessly the deadly Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, Seychelles- the small island holiday destination in the Indian Ocean with a population of less than a hundred thousand inhabitants- is now Covid-19 Free.
The country, which reported a number of 11 cases in total, has announced the last infected patient tested negative for a continuous number of days and is now considered to be healed from the Covid-19 virus.
The Covid-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached Seychelles in March 2020 as the announcement of the first two cases of COVID-19 was made on March 14, 2020.
The number of cases on the island increased slowly during the next three weeks and reached its peak on April 6, 2020 when the 11th case was confirmed including the only two local transmitted cases following which there has been no other positive cases reported on the islands.
Behind the successful handling of the delicate situation, resulting from this pandemic is the local authority known as the Public Health Authority under the supervision of its Seychelles' Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Jude Gedeon.
The public health team reacted promptly and effectively to establish emergency protocols with the directions of the WHO, to respond to the covid-19 crisis to treat the active cases and curb the spreading of the Covid-19 virus within its population. Provision for quarantine facilities and an immediate rapid response team was created from the time WHO had declared Covid-19 a pandemic in mid-January.
Following the detection of the last person subjected to the infection and acting in a precautionary manner to restrain the inflation of infection numbers in the Seychelles, a travel ban order imposed by the authorities came into effect at midnight on Wednesday April 8 in Seychelles, restricting movement for citizens except essential service workers. This measure was maintained for 21 days.
On April 28, 2020, Seychelles’ President Danny Faure announced a lifting of restrictions on the movement of people on May 4, while travel restrictions will end on 1 June when the Seychelles International airport will reopen on June 1, 2020.
For the moment, Seychelles is free from the Covid-19 pandemic and the Seychellois authorities remain on high alert for any eventualities. The Public Health Authority alongside other organisations are working hard to keep citizens, expatriates and visitors safe from the pandemic.
As announced by the President on April 28, 2020, visitors and returning residents arriving in Seychelles will be subjected to strict measures imposed by the Public Health Authority, including a 14-day compulsory quarantine.
Speaking about the destination being free from Covid-19, the Minister for Tourism Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Minister Didier Dogley stated that the exceptional work done by the health authorities has been tremendous and it has enabled the Tourism stakeholders to get back to the drawing board to plan for the arrival of our first visitors.
“As the situation around the world remains precarious, it is a blessing for our small nation to have been able to curb the spread of the Covid-19 on our shores. As a destination, this is a very big advantage for Seychelles; there is a lot of preparatory work here on the ground with our partners to make sure that Seychelles sends a strong message of being a safe destination. When the world opens up and people start travelling, safety in regards to COVID 19 is going to be a major factor for visitors planning to go on holiday,” said Minister Dogley.
He further mentioned that with the opening of the airport on June 1, 2020, Seychelles will be in a very strong position to market itself as a safe destination; something that most tourists will be yearning for after being confined to their homes for months.
Composed of 115 islands, the Seychelles Archipelago land of lush vegetation and natural pristine beauty lies scattered across their secret corner of the western Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, some thousand miles away.
All cases have been reported and treated on Mahe. No cases have been reported on the inner island of Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette Island and the Outer Islands.
Seychelles closing to cruise ships will have a major impact on the economy
Rheanna Norris, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view on this news: “The decision to ban cruise ships from visiting the Seychelles via its Victoria port could spark a major downturn for this tourism-reliant economy. Cruise ships do not only bring visitors to its 115 islands, but also encourages spending on entertainment and foodservice, alongside accommodation and inspiration for repeat trips.
“Arrivals to the Seychelles via cruise ships quadrupled between 2017 and 2018, with further increases forecasted for 2020 and beyond. This new legislation will eradicate this increase and the islands will rely on tourism by air travel only.
“According to GlobalData, tourism accounted for 25.5% of the Seychelles’ GDP in 2019, making it one of the most tourism dependent countries in the world. Alongside existing travel restrictions and a global slowdown in travel, banning cruise ships is further bad news for this luxury destination.
“This strategic move will help the Seychelles’ other key economic sector: fishing. As its port in Victoria is its only point of entry for the rest of the world, its priority is to not compromise the maritime industry and to protect the nation from the global pandemic at all costs.
“The Seychelles still have a point of entry for tourism via air, and it has already embarked on the road to recovery. With assistance from the government, civil society and Seychelles Investment Board, tourism businesses can look to adapt to the future and inevitable changes in travel.”