LARGE NUMBER OF INFECTIONS FOUND AMONG SAILORS RAISE DOUBTS ON PRE-TRAVEL HEALTH CHECKS
(Posted 26th June 2020)
The crew exchange a few days ago for a Spanish tuna seiner fleet fishing in Seychelles waters appears to have gone horribly wrong.
The Seychelles Department of Health has earlier today confirmed that as many as 59 of the 207 sailors have now been tested positive for the COVID19 virus although they had apparently undergone compulsory testing at home, prior to leaving on their charter flight to the Seychelles, as is required by health authorities in the Seychelles.
The 207 sailors were uplifted from both Senegal and Ivory Coast before flying to Mahe where the crew exchange was to take place.
The previously found infected sailors, who were initially sent into isolation at the Perseverance Island’s isolation unit, are now being placed on some of the ships where a fleet doctor is available, according to a Department of Health news update seen by ATCNews.
Questions have been posed to ATCNews over the accuracy of the tests the sailors had to undergo and at least two tourism sources, upon an enquiry from ATCNews, have shared their concerns over future tourist arrivals and the quality and accuracy of test results they bring with them.
Said one of the tourism sources from Victoria to ATCNews: ‘This is a horrible development. Seychelles demands pre-travel certification for travelers coming to our country. The safety net of another test on arrival has in this case worked but imagine these sailors had not gone to their ships but to resorts and hotels. The infection could have spread very easily before our own test results can confirm their actual status and collect them for isolation and quarantine. I am not sure about the quality of the tests these sailors took before travel but we as an industry must be extra careful now when mainstream tourists begin to arrive again that their tests before travel are of the highest quality and can be trusted. Our health authorities at the airport must raise vigilance to be sure they are not presented with fake certificates as a result of which the entire country could have to go back to lockdown‘.
ATCNews is trying to reach out to health authorities in Senegal and the Ivory Coast to establish where the sailors had been tested prior to travel and if any sampling data on inaccurate tests are available from those countries.