3 health specialists in Seychelles to boost COVID-19 response; presence of variants confirmed

Three World Health Organisation specialists in epidemiology, laboratory and data analysis from the Africa CDC are doing a comprehensive evaluation on the COVID-19 situation in Seychelles, a health official said Thursday, a boost in expertise that comes as the presence of three COVID variants were confirmed in the archipelago.
The Public Health Commissioner told a press conference on Thursday that the specialists’ evaluation “will help us better understand how the outbreak has evolved in our country, how our vaccination programme is helping to stop the increase in infections among others.” The three are from the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We will have more answers when the analyses are completed and we can give the information to the public as this is a battle for the whole population,” he added.
Gedeon also confirmed the presence of three variants of concern of COVID-19 in Seychelles after receiving the results of samples sent for testing at the Kemri Laboratory in Kenya.
The Public Health Commissioner said the three variants of concern are the Beta South African variant; the Delta Indian variant and the Alpha UK variant.
“They are called variants of concern because their ability to transmit increases and there are changes in the cases recorded in the community. Secondly, its virulence changes and it is not like those before.  And thirdly, public health and social measures, vaccines, are not as effective as they were before,” said Gedeon.
“This is what we had observed after we had the surge in May and those characteristics made us suspect that we had other variants here,” he added.
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has recorded 15,116 cases of COVID-19, out of which 1,424 are still active. The number of deaths recorded is 63.
Gedeon said that at this point it is not easy to say how the variants reached Seychelles.
“It could be a visitor, a Seychellois or someone who works here. It is not easy to detect and a lot of investigative work needs to be done to find their sources.” 
Gedeon also announced that the Ministry of Health’s laboratory has just received mutation panels “which will help to detect some of the variants and this is good news. How many we can do at the same time this we will wait for guidance from the laboratory.”
The chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange, also announced that Seychelles has received 50,000 doses of Sinopahrm Vero Cell vaccines. The Agency will start administering the vaccines on Friday.
To date 67,305 people have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine amounting to 68 percent of the population of 98,462. 

Source: Seychelles News Agency