Nine new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Seychelles, President Danny Faure said Thursday during a live press conference.
Faure effectively announced six new cases one day after the health authority confirmed three cases among newly arrived sailors, bringing the total to nine. The cases occurred among the 205 seafarers from western African countries who arrived on Tuesday for a crew change for 26 Spanish vessels currently fishing tuna in Seychelles' waters.
The head of state said that whilst the pandemic is still ravaging the world it is important to protect the country. At the same time, he said the economy cannot shut down as this will result in grave economic consequences.
"We cannot stop businesses. The country is at a time where we cannot make this mistake. What we need to do is manage. When Seychelles had 11 cases, the world had 1 million cases, today when we, all together, have 20 cases, the world has 9 million cases.
This means that we are living in a world where this will continue. So, it is important that we live in a world where there is a balance where economic activities continue," explained Faure.
All of the previous 11 patients with COVID recovered.
Meanwhile, the head of state also confirmed that Justice Mathilda Twomey has tendered her resignation which will come into effect in September. Twomey has served as the island nation Chief Justice since August 2015.
"I have great respect for the Chief Justice and we have a good working relationship. She did make a declaration at the reopening of the courts of her decision and she also explained why she took the decision to step down this year. I can confirm that I did receive an official letter from her on the subject," said Faure.
The head of state said that he will later meet with Judge Twomey to discuss the content of her letter.
On the issue of European Union vessels fishing tuna in Seychelles' waters, Faure confirmed that the government is looking at the possibility of having its own fleet of tuna vessels.
"A fleet of tuna fishing boats is on the table. Minister Bastienne (Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries) and the chairman of the SFA (Seychelles Fishing Authority) are working on this but it is not something that will happen tomorrow but this is on the table being discussed at this moment," said Faure.
Given the dire economic situation because of COVID's crippling effect on tourism, the president warned that people in the public sector working for the government in Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - face the risk of losing their jobs.
"The scale of the economic crisis in Seychelles will demand that the size of the government is examined if the crisis continues. If the economic and financial situation deteriorates, this will dictate that adjustments are done. And how the adjustments are done is equally important. But for now, this is not on the table. But if the economic and financial situation deteriorates it will be inevitable," he explained.
The president warned that the pandemic has put the country in crisis and that if the situation continues the island nation will face more difficult times ahead.
On the issue of the presidential election, Faure said that it is important to respect the election process in place as the tentative dates for presidential elections were announced for October.
When asked about his running mate, Faure remained elusive on who it is but confirmed that he does have a candidate. "Who is my running mate? This will only be revealed at the appropriate time," he said.