Air Seychelles will repatriate 95 Seychellois nationals stranded in India and Sri Lanka due to the COVID-19 pandemic on a special flight on Saturday, said the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The repatriation has been identified as a priority as it consists of many Seychellois patients who were undergoing treatment in India and Sri Lanka both with government financial assistance and privately.
This fully-funded government-sponsored flight will carry 81 Seychellois nationals from Chennai in India which include 42 patients and attendants, and 14 patients and attendants from Sri Lanka. Those who have already paid their tickets can contact the airline as soon as they arrive in Seychelles for a refund.
In line with guidance from the Department of Health, Air Seychelles has announced new strict guidelines that passengers have to follow during check-in, boarding, in-flight, and upon disembarkation, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"As part of the new procedure, passengers will need to wear their own masks when at the airport and on board the aircraft at all times, in addition to maintaining social distancing during the check-in and boarding process as instructed by the guest service agent," the airline said in a communique on Thursday.
Additionally, Air Seychelles said that "blankets will not be provided on the flights, hence passengers are requested to bring extra clothing or their own blanket for added comfort. For safety and security purposes, passengers will be advised not to proceed in the Business Class cabin and to limit their movement during the flight."
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that other stranded Seychellois nationals are likely to be repatriated from June when travel restrictions will be gradually lifted and entry into Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will be allowed from selected countries as per the conditions provided by the health authorities.
"All our embassies across the world are being mobilised and we are compiling a list of stranded nationals within their jurisdictions, with the support of our Consular network. Our embassies are in direct contact with the stranded nationals and on a daily basis are coordinating with the Consular Affairs section," the Department added.
The director of consular affairs in the Department, Terry Rose, said that countries have their local laws and regulations that have to be adhered to and the Department with the assistance of its overseas missions continues to negotiate with all countries and parties concerned in an effort to undertake the repatriation.