COVID cases in Seychelles rise to 69; no plan to close borders

Three foreign nationals and seven more mariners tested positive for COVID-19 in Seychelles, bringing the total of active cases to 69, a top health official said on Saturday.

Despite the sudden caseload after weeks of COVID calm, Seychellois officials have no immediate plans to re-close the island nation's borders.

The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference on Saturday that one of the foreigners who tested positive is a French woman who has been on vacation in Seychelles since March and did a PCR test as part of requirements for her to return home.

Gedeon described the positive testing of the French national as an anomaly.

"We have already started to trace people who may have come into contact with her. As it is this may be a possible community transmission case, as we cannot yet pinpoint where she may have been infected. We have done confirmation tests and we await the results to determine if hers is a true positive case," he said.

The French national and the two visitors who were in quarantine at the Beau Vallon Bay hotel facility have been transferred to the isolation centre at the Family Hospital at Perseverance.

The seven mariners from West African countries joining a Spanish tuna fishing fleet in the Seychelles' waters tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday night, making it a total of 66 mariners who are infected.

In light of the new cases, the local health authorities have renewed appeals for adherence to health safety guidelines, urging the population to better protect themselves by practising social distancing, maintaining good hygiene at all times and wearing masks.

Meanwhile, all but one of the mariners who tested positive have been transferred back to their ships, where they are receiving medical assistance from the shipping line's doctor. They are being tested daily.

One had a slight fever on Saturday and has been placed in the isolation facility.

After about 19 weeks of not registering a single COVID-19 case, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean has now moved from 11 to 69 over a couple of days. The positive cases come at a time when the government has announced the re-opening of the country's international airport to commercial passenger flights in August.

Gedeon said that thus far there is no change in this plan.