12 March 2020, Seychelles – On Wednesday 10th March 2020, the WHO Representative for Seychelles Dr. Teniin Gakuruh met with the President of the Republic of Seychelles, His Excellency Danny Faure at the State House in Victoria, to discuss Seychelles’ preparedness status for COVID19. This was in the presence of the Secretary of State for the Department of Health (DoH), Ambassador Marie-Pierre Llyod.
Since the outbreak of the Novel Corona virus (COVID-19), the WHO Country Office (WCO) has been working actively with the DoH to heighten the level of preparedness and containment measures to COVID-19. The courtesy call was an opportunity for the WR, Dr. Gakuruh to brief the Head of State, President Faure on the global outbreak and on the county’s level of preparedness. The WR updated the President on the support WHO has been providing to all member states to prepare and respond to COVID-19, and more specifically on the technical support the WCO is providing to ensure a well-integrated and multi-sectoral approach. The WR expressed her appreciation that Seychelles is one of the countries in the African region that has strengthened ability to respond to the COVID-19, giving the example of the country’s capacity to test for COVID-19 as one of the first countries to do so in the region. The country has also now developed its own National Preparedness Plan for COVID-19, which aims to respond to the threat of getting affected by COVID-19, stop further transmission within Seychelles and to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. She spoke of the country’s ability to quickly shift to response mode with the technical support of WHO, with rapid interventions of containment and contact tracing in the event that the country confirms a first case.
“Countries may not prevent a case from coming in. What is very important is containment. WHO is providing guidance and supporting implementation of the various scenarios relevant to each country context. WHO has provided and is regularly revising Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines including mobilization of surge capacities to assist country response mechanism that can be deployed rapidly", the WR confirmed WHO’s commitment to the press after the meeting.
Just one day after the WR’s meeting with the Head of State, the Cabinet of Ministers met and approved for the immediate release of 5 million Seychelles rupees (around US$365,000) to support implementation of the National Preparedness Plan for COVID-19 which is currently costed at US1.9m.
On 31st December 2019, China notified WHO about a cluster of pneumonia patients in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. This was later confirmed to be an outbreak caused by a novel corona virus, COVID-19. Amid the rising spread of the virus, on 30th January, the WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International concern (PHEIC), in acknowledgement of the risk the virus poses to countries beyond its origin in China. As of yesterday 11th March 2020, WHO has reported 125,865 cases of COVID-19, with 4,615 deaths globally. Over 67,000 confirmed cases has recovered from the illness. WHO is none-the-less urging all countries to prepare for the potential arrival of COVID-19.
The Seychelles has to date not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Department of Health has however conducted seven (7) COVID-19 tests which were all negative. Five (5) persons were admitted to the isolation centre at Anse Royale, whilst they awaited their results and were later discharged. Ten (10) persons so far has also been quarantined for 14 days at the Perseverance Quarantined Facility. As with all other member states, the WHO will continue to provide guidance on the adoption of epidemic preparedness and response strategies which includes amongst others multi-stakeholders collaboration, strengthening surveillance at points of entry, enhancing the laboratory capacity, case management, infection prevention and control measures, enforcing IHR regulation measures as well as logistics and financial support.
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