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COVID-19 - More intensive measures to prevent spread of virus |08 April 2020

COVID-19 - More intensive measures to prevent spread of virus

(L to r) Dr Louange, Dr Gedeon and Mr Labaleine during the press conference yesterday (Photo: Thomas Meriton)

The 11th positive coronavirus case registered in Seychelles on Monday is a local transmission, and public health commissioner Dr Jude Gedeon has said he anticipates that new cases of COVID-19 will be detected in the country. And as of midnight, tonight, the country will intensify its measures to minimise the spread of the virus

Dr Gedeon said this in press conference yesterday afternoon at the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Diagnostic Centre at the Seychelles Hospital. Also present were the chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Dr Danny Louange, the deputy commissioner of police, Ted Barbé, and the principal secretary for the department of risk and disaster management (DRDM), Paul Labaleine.

The young man who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday is a ground handling staff at the Seychelles International Airport.

“When we detected this new case on Monday night, we immediately did contact tracing to find out who he had been in contact with. Based on the analysis, we could not pick up where that person got the virus from. However, given the fact that he works at the airport, chances are that he got exposed to a traveller, an incoming passenger or somebody who was leaving. So given that it is a local transmission, he could have had opportunities to transmit the disease in the community. So, we anticipate that we may be detecting new cases of COVID-19 in the country,” stated Dr Gedeon.

Dr Gedeon noted that yesterday they conducted six tests and all were negative, but as these persons were in contact with the young man, they have all been placed in quarantine and they will be tested again.

“We are doing contact tracing and we are contacting all persons who have been in contact with him (the young man) and those with high risks have been contacted first and as we go along more people who have been in contact with him will be quarantined. It is not a punishment but it is to make sure that we have an eye on people who could contract the disease. So, it is important that they are contained early and follow treatment,” added Dr Gedeon.

Dr Gedeon confirmed that there are still 11 COVID-19 cases in Seychelles and all patients are doing fine.

“Even the Dutch patient is recovering. He is speaking and eating and asking for special food. The work is ongoing and we want the engagement of the public, we want them to be on our side as we take new measures to break the chain of transmission,” added Dr Gedeon.


New intensified measures

DRDM principal secretary Paul Labaleine explained about the new measures which consist of people who are not in essential services must stay at home.

“You can come out of your home to go to the bank, shops and get essential services. All shops that do not sell groceries will be closed for three weeks as of midnight, tonight. Additionally there will be check points by police and enforcement by police and the engagement of the community development personnel to assist us in the community distancing practices in all the districts as some shops are really small and we need to control the crowd. Essential services must continue to operate such as PUC, hospitals, airport, marine services, civil aviation, customs, immigration, loading and unloading services of ships, telecommunications, meteorological services , postal services, banking and financial services, retail and wholesale and suppliers of food and drinks, public transportation, inter island air and sea transportation, waste collection and disposal services, petroleum services, print, audio and visual media, district administrations and government treasury,” said PS Labaleine.

He added that buses will be allowed to transport only people working in essential services. Another measure includes stopping construction work as of midnight tonight around the islands. So, there should be no pick-up with workers on the road and they are urged to stay in their living quarters where health services will work with them on the social distance practices.

Update on services and quarantine: Two new centres open

At the time of the press conference, Dr Danny Louange noted that there were 10 people in isolation at the Family Hospital in Persévérance. One person was discharged and sent to the isolation centre at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay where there were 63 people in quarantine including 16 who were admitted yesterday. At the coast guard facility there were 16 people in quarantine.

Sixteen people who had been in contact with the young man have been contacted and the health department is still continuing with our alerts and these people are undergoing tests.

Three hundred and thirty-six (336) patients who were on home quarantine have been released and currently there are only 32 people on quarantine.

“With the new measures, we already have changed our services. We have introduced new centres – Anse Royale and Mont Fleuri – where patients can go and call 141 when they have symptoms. We urge the public to keep calling the 141 and not to report to the health centres,” said Dr Louange who added that they are still providing all essential services to the public.

“For people with chronic diseases, we are working on a special programme for them so that we can facilitate treatment for them. We are urging members of the public to reduce the number of visits to public health centres,” he continued.


Documents leak

Dr Gedeon noted that this is an unfortunate situation for personal information about a patient to be leaked and that the health department highly disapproves of this kind of attitude.

“Currently we are doing an investigation to see how the document got leaked and who is responsible. The police are also involved in this case. Every health personnel took a confidentiality oath when they joined the service, more than ever they need to abide by this law. And I take this opportunity to apologise to the concerned person and also to the family. This matter is very serious and we do not want it to repeat itself,” claimed Dr Gedeon.


Stepping up police work

As for the deputy commissioner of police, Ted Barbé, he noted that “we already have a joint operation centre for national disaster and we are putting it in operation. Four centres have been put in place at the Police Academy, Police headquarters, Glacis and Praslin. It will start operating as of midnight and we also have our rapid response team on the ground. With the new measures, we will blend our force to help the department of health and the public. We are not living in normal time and we have to limit the number of people circulating on the road. If the situation goes out of control, the police have the right to intervene.”

Dr Gedeon added: “These measures, I feel will be adequate to break the chain of transmission if people cooperate and respect the measures. We do not want people to play hide and seek with the police or any authorities. It is as much your responsibility as a citizen of Seychelles as it is for us essential workers. We have to stay on the field to ensure that services are ongoing. Play your part.”


Vidya Gappy

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