Seychelles: Coronavirus - Seychelles Bans Inbound Visitors Who Were Recently in China

A colorized transmission electron micrograph of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) virus particles (orange) found near the periphery of an infected cell (green). Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility. The January 2020 coronavirus in China is reported to come from the family of viruses that gave rise to Sars.

Starting Monday, all flights coming to Seychelles will not be allowed to board passengers or crew who have been to China in the last 14 days in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a top health official in the island nation said.

The new advisory also applies to any person arriving in Seychelles by sea.

The Ministry of Health said only returning Seychellois residents coming from China will be allowed in the island nation.

Jude Gedeon, Public Health Commissioner, told a news conference on Friday that airlines have been given three days to relay the information to their clients.

"When deciding on this new advisory, we opted on three days as we felt it would be enough time to relay this information to all the airlines and also to make the necessary changes required," said Gedeon.

Officials in Seychelles late last month started to monitor arriving passengers from China to prevent the introduction and spread of the novel coronavirus in Seychelles.

Gedeon said that local authorities took heed that other countries were cancelling direct flights to China but as Seychelles does not have direct flights to the Asian country, it decided to have an open advisory which targets all incoming airlines.

He added that airlines were notified through their associations and chairpersons directly, to ensure this information was communicated accordingly.

There are a dozen airlines flying to Seychelles weekly and Gedeon stressed that they need to follow this advisory.

"In the event that they do board a passenger who has been in China in the last 14 days, the passenger will not be allowed to disembark in Seychelles and the airline will be responsible to return with the passenger," he added.

Another option would be to place the person in quarantine after assessing all the risks.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is not the only country implementing this drastic measure. The United States, Australia, Russia, Japan, Pakistan and Italy have also announced similar restrictions.

Last week Seychelles also issued a travel advisory preventing Seychellois from travelling to China.

In the event that a person insists on travelling to the affected country, he or she would not be allowed to return to Seychelles until the outbreak is declared to be over.

Trade partners have also been advised to cancel all bookings from China planned for the coming months.

So far the Ministry of Health has not reported any suspected cases of the novel coronavirus in Seychelles.

The country has also initiated its outbreak response plan based on existing guidelines and specialised areas for response during a public health emergency.

Last week, Seychelles started evacuating some of the 51 students studying in China.

The virus outbreak started in Wuhan, Hubei Province and has since spread to other countries. The latest death toll in China stands at 304 as of Sunday but no deaths have been reported outside China.

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