Five Spanish seafarers on the fishing fleet operating in the Seychelles' waters who were already at sea have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to six active cases in the island nation, a top health official said on Tuesday.
The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference that seafarers on one of the vessels which departed to fish in July developed symptoms while at sea.
He said the seafarers were exposed to the virus before they left although they had tested negative previously.
"The vessel came back with 35 seafarers and we tested 11 during the weekend out of which five are positive. We are going to test the remaining 24. The vessel is in quarantine with all the seafarers onboard," added Gedeon.
The five newly discovered active cases are in addition to a Nigerian UN volunteer worker who is still in the isolation centre. In total Seychelles has had 132 positive COVID cases out of which 126 have recovered. Seychelles has not reported any deaths linked to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has revised the list of countries from which visitors are permitted to travel to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
"We have seen that the list has contracted a bit with France and Belgium removed because the outbreak is going up again in their statistics. That is why they have been removed from permitted countries as this point in time," said Gedeon.
The Public Health Commissioner said that the change in the status of countries is a problem for the tourism sector as it makes it difficult for visitors to make advance bookings.
Visitors from non-permitted countries can only travel to Seychelles if they have spent two weeks in any one of the permitted countries.
While Seychellois from any countries can return to the island nation but if they come from a country that is not on the permitted list they will be required to go into quarantine facilities.
Gedeon said that there are things happening in Seychelles which is making it difficult for the health department to better manage the risk as there is no such thing as zero risks.
An issue that has been raised by certain tourism businesses is that some visitors are not staying at approved accommodations and some local establishments are taking in tourists without permission.
Gedeon said that for those visitors when they apply for their exit PCR tests they will have to reveal where they were staying and if these were unapproved accommodation it will be reported to the relevant authorities.
He reiterated that mass gatherings which include musical shows and parties with a large group of people remain forbidden.