Use of face masks urged as a precautionary measure |10 June 2020
Face masks may soon be mandatory for passengers onboard public buses and ferries, as a precautionary measure to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.
It is already mandatory to wear face masks on domestic flights.
The department of health has noted that the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) and ferry companies have expressed that not only does social distancing measures leave a lot of passengers behind, but it is also not financially viable.
Public Health Commissioner, Dr Jude Gedeon, explained that the health authorities have agreed for these companies to do away with social distancing so as to take onboard more passengers and has instead recommended the use of face masks.
“I’d like to impress the importance of having masks covering your face and mouth in instances where you cannot respect social distancing measures. Any kind of face mask will help, even the homemade ones will provide you with certain protections,” said Dr Gedeon.
“We have guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to stitch your own mask at home,” Dr Gedeon said, while adding that this is an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to take up the challenge of manufacturing face masks.
Dr Gedeon however stressed that face masks should be used properly in order to be effective. This includes ensuring hands are clean or sanitised before putting the mask on and before removing it, as well as to dispose of them safely.
Seychelles is now among nine countries confirmed to be COVID-19 free and Dr Danny Louange, chief executive of the Health Care Agency, further announced that there are no persons in quarantine in the country.
“We have done many tests – we tested those in quarantine and none came out positive. We have tested the crew of Air Seychelles who did the repatriation flight and they have also tested negative[…] So for all intents and purposes, Seychelles remains COVID-19 free,” Dr Louange said.
Dr Louange added that they are using this period to train health workers, and health and safety officers from tourism establishments.
With mind to keep this status quo, our borders are gradually being re-opened with certain conditions in place for entry including the submission of entry applications.
“As we approach July and August and as the outbreak is better controlled in many of our tourism markets, we anticipate that we will be able to further ease the restrictions,” Dr Gedeon stated.
So far, the health authorities have received five entry applications for private jets out of which three have been approved, but no requests from chartered flights as of yet.
The department of health has also received 16 entry applications from leisure yachts, out of which 14 received the green light and two applications were rejected because they did not meet the set criteria. All 14 of these yachts are already in Seychelles waters.
Dr Gedeon confirmed that the super-yacht, which came into Seychelles without permission, a few days prior to the re-opening of the borders, has also had its application approved. The 30 crew members onboard have received permission to come ashore since they have already spent more than 14 days at sea.
He noted that the super-yacht owner has expressed intentions to conduct a crew change but the department of health has yet to receive a formal request.
Dr Gedeon also noted that the department of health is presently working in collaboration with the department of foreign affairs to compile a list of Seychellois who are stuck overseas and students who have completed their studies in order to repatriate them.
Work is also ongoing between the department of health and the electoral commission to ensure that voter registration takes place with the necessary safety measures, especially now that the tentative dates for the 2020 presidential elections have been announced.
He also stated that Seychelles is no longer looking at Israel as a possible source of visitors since the country has seen an increase in COVID-19 case over the last week.
Dr Gedeon concluded by raising a warning alarm in regards to the increase of dengue fever in the country and which have seen some patients suffer with severe symptoms.
By Elsie Pointe