Seychelles partly on target to reopen to any tourist; sees 10th COVID-19 death, rising infection rates

Seychelles is partly on target to achieve its objective of vaccinating 70 percent of its local population in order to reopen its doors to visitors from anywhere in the world mid March, said a top health official.
As of February 17, close to 41,840 people have received their first dose of vaccine which represents 60 percent of the 70,000 population target. As for the second dose, 19,513 people have taken them which is 28 percent of the target.
“When we talk about herd immunity this is what we are looking at and to be able to reach 65 to 70 percent, we need to vaccinate most adults and, when the vaccine is available for children, we will be able to vaccinate a portion of this population,” said the Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, in a press conference on Thursday.
Achieving herd immunity will allow Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to re-launch its tourism industry, scheduled to take place mid-March.
Gedeon said that while in some parts Seychelles is on target, however, this also depends on how people come forward to get vaccinated and how they respond in the industry in terms of preparation.
He said that the island nation is not performing too badly when it comes to the number of people being vaccinated “but we could have done better with some adjustments and more cooperation coming from the public.”
“It also depends on the speed at which people are vaccinated globally. We think that with the local situation and that of other countries we will be able to relaunch the industry faster,” he added.
This week, Seychelles recorded its 10th death related to COVID-19, and the number of infected persons is rising, even as the island nation continues to roll out its vaccination programme.
The chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange, said that “when we look at the fatality rate for the cases that we have registered and considering that Seychelles has a small population, the mortality is quite high.”
“This gives an indication that the number of cases is still increasing and this is why we are asking people to stay safe and continue observing measures put in place. If we can reduce the number of people being infected, it will reduce the number of deaths,” said Louange.
Gedeon said that “if we look at it in terms of the lifetime of the outbreak, 10 deaths out of 2,211 infected represent less than one percent. The mortality rate globally is between two and three percent in most countries.”
Seychelles has presently 594 active cases, most of them on the main island, Mahe, with 62 on Praslin and 53 on La Digue, the second and third most populated islands respectively.
Gedeon said that looking at daily figures may give a false impression that cases are rising so it is important to wait for explanations from the health authority.
“On Mondays, the trend tends to pick up and this is due to how people access services during the workdays and weekends. When we look at the daily average between 60 to 75 cases per day in the last week, we see that there seems to be a plateau. The trend at the moment shows that the average is quite stable and we are expecting that in the coming weeks there will be a downward trend,” said Gedeon.
The Public Health Commissioner said that Seychelles need to be cautious of the different variants that are being detected in different countries and this is a threat.
“With each new variant, we are unsure of whether the vaccine administered will be effective against it. We do not know if it will be more aggressive. These are the unknowns that we need to live with and this is why we need to keep the precautionary
Seychelles rolled out its vaccination programme on January 10 and two vaccines are being administered, the Chinese Sinopharm and the Covishield AstraZeneca.

Source: Seychelles News Agency