For the second time in a week, Seychelles has increased restrictive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 after a surge in active cases among Seychellois, a decision taken in an urgent meeting chaired by President Wavel Ramkalawan on Sunday.
The island nation in the western Indian Ocean currently has 83 positive cases out of which 46 are Seychellois. Two patients are critically ill and two others are in serious condition. Seychelles has recorded no deaths to date.
Restrictive measures were first put in place on December 30 after Seychelles started experiencing community transmission.
Two new measures following the Sunday meeting include restrictions on movement from one location to another, and workers will now work from home except for those in essential services.
"Yesterday, we had 12 new cases and these are people with symptoms which leads us to believe that there are many cases in the community but people are not showing symptoms and they are circulating and infecting others," Dr. Jude Gedeon, the Public Health Commissioner told reporters.
With contact tracing going on for 800 individuals who have had contact with the recent cases, the Seychelles' President said the situation is serious and that to break the chain of transmission each and every Seychellois has to take personal responsibility.
"The situation is constantly evolving and it is critical that we all play our role to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in our communities. Each one of us needs to make it our personal responsibility as citizens to ensure that we break the chain of transmission during the coming 10 days," said Ramkalawan.
There will also be a limitation of movement of both Seychellois and foreigners coming to Seychelles.
"All incoming travellers, both foreigners and Seychellois will stay for 10 mandatory days in a facility either a quarantine one of a tourist accommodation before doing a PCR test. There will be strict enforcement on social distancing and there will be more police presence," said Gedeon.
He added that only grocery shops will be opened and others will remain closed except for hardware stores that will open until midday. The restrictions are in place until January 13.
Other facilities that will be closed are stand-alone restaurants and mobile food outlets while all sporting activities are suspended except fitness activities among family member like jogging or walking.
There is also a ban on visits to hospitals and elderly people's homes to see relatives.
Ramkalawan said that with the additional measures, during the coming days joint law enforcement operations by the Police and military will intensify to ensure action is taken with anyone not respecting the public health guidelines.
He added that vaccinations will start as soon as possible and that he will be the first to take the vaccine when all is ready. The health services expect to roll out a health education campaign which will include the vaccination programme this month.