Department of Health issues new Travel and health advisory update about COVID-19
Overview and situation analysis
As of 15th March 2020, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has exceeded 142,000 in 135 different countries. About 50% of confirmed cases have already recovered. The total number of deaths globally stands at 5,393, most having occurred in China, followed by Italy, Iran and South Korea. Whilst the epidemic has been slowing down in China, most European countries have registered confirmed cases, with the rate of infection rising very fast in some countries, especially in Spain where further restrictive measures are being taken. Community transmission within China, South Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran remain significant. It is evident that the open borders of EU countries have facilitated transmission from one country to the next. Containment continues to be a challenge worldwide. The escalation of the outbreak globally has resulted in many countries adopting measures that limit travel. Flight bookings into Seychelles have already reduced significantly and this will certainly impact adversely on the tourism and other industries. Further risk benefit analysis indicates that Seychelles as a small island state that depends on tourism and imports from across the globe, stands to lose much more than benefit, with additional travel restrictions on countries. Such additional restrictions may force most airlines to withdraw their flights into Seychelles and this will adversely affect the movement of not only people but also essential goods such as food, medicines and vaccines, among others. WHO continues to emphasise on the need for countries to enhance preparedness to respond to cases and take mitigating measures without creating panic.
General advice until further notice:
- Organisers of public events, such as, and not limited to, sporting and entertainment activities, cinemas and fun fairs, are advised to cancel and postpone the event until further notice;
- Churches and faith-based organisations are advised to shorten services, avoid large feasts and celebrations, and also take steps to limit physical contact during services;
- People in general are advised to refrain from participating in public gatherings;
- Members of the public are being strongly advised to refrain from travelling abroad;
- Everyone is encouraged to make a special effort to observe good personal hygiene at all times;
- Avoid going to public places if you have a respiratory condition that is making you cough and sneeze;
- A face mask is only useful if you have respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or runny nose; or you are taking care of a sick person with respiratory illness;
- Practise frequent hand washing with soap (e.g. before handling food or eating, after going to toilet, or when hands are dirtied by respiratory secretions after coughing or sneezing); and use hand sanitisers where available;
- Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when coughing or sneezing, and dispose of the soiled tissue paper in the rubbish bin immediately; then, wash hands or use alcohol based hand sanitisers;
- All travelers should monitor their health closely for two weeks upon return to Seychelles and seek medical attention promptly if feeling unwell, and also inform their doctor of their travel history;
- If you have a fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, runny nose), you should wear a face mask and call your clinic for further advice.
Revised travel measures:
- Until further notice, No persons (apart from returning citizens and residents of those countries), are allowed to travel to China, including the Special Administrative Region (SAR), South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain.
- All returning Seychellois citizens who have been to China, including the SAR, South Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran will be put under obligatory quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
- Local trade partners are advised to give all visitors from China, including the SAR South Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran and places where there has been significant local transmission, and who were planning to visit the Seychelles in the coming weeks and months, the opportunity to cancel or postpone their holiday at no cost.
- All foreign workers who are presently in China, South Korea, Italy, Spain, Iran and places where there has been extensive local transmission and were planning to return to Seychelles are directed to postpone their return travel until further notice.
- All airlines with inbound flights for Seychelles, are directed not to board any passengers or crew (except returning Seychellois citizens) who have been to China (including the SAR), South Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran in the last 14 days.
- All arriving passengers may be subjected to additional health screening upon arrival
- Any person arriving in Seychelles by sea (except returning Seychellois citizens) will not be allowed to disembark if he/she has been to China, (including the SAR), South Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran and places where there has been extensive local transmission in the last 14 days.
- As of 10th March 2020, all cruise ships will not be allowed entry into Seychelles waters until further notice
- Any marine vessel will not be allowed to enter Seychelles waters if any passenger or crew on board has been to China, South Korea, Italy, Spain and Iran in the last 14 days.
Seychelles continues to reinforce its outbreak preparedness and response plan. This advisory will be updated as and when necessary.