If social distancing practices aren't adhered to in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 then the Seychelles may have to return to stricter rules, a top official said on Tuesday.
The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference that social distancing is one of the key interventions in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19.
"If we don't achieve the target of good social distancing in the population, if we get other cases, we will have to go back to where we were before. Start closing schools, start more severe restriction which will bring back social distancing by force," said Gedeon.
He said that if people practice it voluntarily every day and consistently "we will not have to impose restrictions like before. Because social distancing will be enough to break the chain of transmission."
Gedeon said that in the past week, the Department has noticed that there has been a lot of breaches in religious services, funeral services, and on beaches during the weekend where there were large groups of people together and these were in contravention of the regulation in place.
He noted however that there are many people practising the preventive measures very well and following all guidelines given by the Department of Health.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has not recorded any new positive cases of the virus since April 5. The island nation has had 11 positive cases of COVID-19 out of which 10 patients have recovered. The 11th has recorded a first negative test and remains at the isolation centre at Perseverance for further testing.
The chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange, said that the remaining patient is doing fairly well and another test will be conducted within 24 hours to see if he could be discharged.
There are currently 74 people in quarantine facilities and these include health professionals from Kenya, health experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and a group of police officers from Botswana.
Louange said that the health department has also reopened some of the services that had stopped due to COVID-19 such as surgery and physiotherapy. He said the agency has "introduced clinics for specialists and we are basing it purely on appointment as we are paying a lot of attention on social distancing."
Gedeon gave an overview of the COVID-19 in the world, particularly in Europe, where the majority of visitors to Seychelles come from. He said there has been a downward trend of positive cases in certain countries.
On the question of removing other restrictions in June, the Public Health Commissioner said the Department is not able to say with certainty that other restrictions will be removed at the end of May.
"We are monitoring the situation around the world for us to be able to decide in June which places we will allow movements to and how and if it will only be Seychellois and chartered flights," said Gedeon.