NEW CASES IMPORTED BY SAILORS WITH QUESTIONABLE ‘ALL CLEAR‘ CERTIFICATES RETURN SEYCHELLES TO ‘ACTIVE‘ STATUS
(Posted 28th June 2020)
The globally celebrated success by the Seychelles government to contain and eradicate the COVID-19 virus from the islands was dealt a big blow during the week, when a sailor exchange – despite all built in safety measures such as mandatory pre-testing at the country of their departure – failed in a massive way.
It was learned overnight that out of the 207 arrivals, which were also tested at the airport on Mahe, 66 of them were found to be infected.
This raised major concerns with the tourism private sector which has counted on these measures being sufficient to allow for a progressive restart of their businesses, hotels, resorts and restaurants but also guest houses and self catering facilities.
Speculation is rife on the islands over the accuracy of the tests these individuals have undergone before departing to the Seychelles, with their flight routing from Senegal – 6.459 active cases and 102 deaths – via the Ivory Coast – 8.944 active cases and 66 deaths – to Mahe.
The flight was pre-approved in order to exchange sailors working on a fleet of Spanish registered tuna seiners, after the previous crew was on board for 6 months necessitating relief.
Local media in the Seychelles reported yesterday that the infected sailors come from the following countries: Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ghana. They were all reportedly tested through health institutions in Senegal and the Ivory Coast before boarding their flight to Mahe, carrying the mandatory all clear certificate. All the above countries have major case loads with Benin showing 1.124 cases as of last evening while Burkina Faso shows 941 cases as of last night. Ghana is the country among the five with the highest caseload, standing as of last night at 16.431 cases.
A local contact from Victoria, the Seychelles’ capital, also suggested that a French woman, who was on the islands since March this year, has been tested positive for the virus as she was preparing for her journey home and had to undergo mandatory testing. She and two others apparently in contact with her were initially admitted to the quarantine facility at the Beau Vallon Bay Hotel for observation but then shifted to the isolation facility on Perseverance Island.
All of the infected sailors except one, who is also admitted at the Perseverance Island treatment centre after developing fever, are reportedly on board of their respective ships.
Investigations are reportedly also going underway at the institutions where the ‘all clear’ certificates were issued in Senegal and the Ivory Coast to establish how such a massive failure could happen and to draw conclusions about what to do differently in the future.