Seychelles, the most vaccinated country in the world against Covid, with more than 60% of its adult population having received two strokes, have reintroduced restrictions due to a spike in cases.
All schools have been closed and sports activities canceled for two weeks in the idyllic Indian Ocean archipelago, as infections continue to rise.
The measures also include a ban on mixing households, certain types of gatherings and the early closure of shops, bars and casinos. Non-essential workers are also encouraged to work from home and an 23-hour curfew will remain in place.
The restrictions come despite the country having fully immunized more than 62% of its adult population with two doses – the second highest rate in the world.
Only Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, has experienced a more successful deployment, according to the data.
There are currently 1,068 active cases of Covid in Seychelles, a third of which have been detected in people who have received two doses of the AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccine from China.
It is not known what triggered the increase in cases, but tests have detected the South African variant spreading on the islands.
British scientists believe the mutant strain can evade immunity and make vaccines up to 30% weaker to prevent infections – but they believe Western injections should still prevent people from getting seriously ill if they are. infected.
There is more doubt about how well the Chinese-made vaccines work, as Beijing has refused to release any data from its jab trials. Chile suffered a devastating second wave – fueled by the Brazilian variant – despite vaccinating half of its population with at least one dose of another Chinese vaccine, called CoronaVac.
Since Seychelles does not actively analyze a large number of positive tests – which is what the UK and other countries are doing to monitor the spread of variants – it is difficult to say exactly which strain has settled in. the country.
But its proximity to South Africa means that the B.1.351 variant is very likely to be responsible for the rise. Seychelles was added to Britain’s ‘red list’ of travel in January along with nine southern African countries and Mauritius in an effort to minimize imports of the strain.
Seychelles, the most vaccinated country in the world against Covid with over 60% of its adult population having received two hits, has reintroduced Covid-19 restrictions. Pictured: A medical worker gives the first dose of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm at the Seychelles Hospital in Victoria, January 10, 2021
Despite the success of the country’s vaccination campaign, the country has recorded a total of 6,373 cases of the coronavirus, resulting in 146 reported deaths. Pictured: A graph showing the 7-day moving daily average of new coronavirus cases in Seychelles
The new restrictions in Seychelles come as the country has fully immunized over 62% of its adult population with two doses and over 68% with one dose, more than any other country in the world.
“Despite all the exceptional efforts we are making, the Covid-19 situation in our country is critical at this time with many daily cases reported last week,” said Peggy Vidot, the country’s Minister of Health, during a press conference on Monday.
But press conference officials did not give many details on the cause of the surge in cases in the country of around 98,000 people, other than saying people were taking fewer precautions against the virus than the year ago. last.
The country moved quickly to launch its vaccination program in January, using doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine (BBIBP-CorV) that were donated by the United Arab Emirates. He also received doses of AstraZeneca from India.
So far, 62.2% of its eligible population has been fully vaccinated, with 68.82% having received at least a single dose. In both measures, Seychelles leads the world.
In comparison, Israel, in second place, administered to 55.9% of its eligible population two doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
When Seychellois President Wavel Ramkalawan first announced the start of the country’s vaccination campaign, he had recorded a total of 531 coronavirus cases and just one death, according to data from his health ministry.
But now, almost four months later and despite the success of the country’s vaccination campaign, the country has recorded a total of 6,373 cases of the coronavirus, resulting in 146 reported deaths.
On Monday, the country recorded its record number of new infections of 500 in a single day.
Chile, another country heavily dependent on vaccines developed in China, has also seen an increase in cases despite the success of its vaccination campaign.
The South American country has given at least one dose of Covid-19 to 42.44% of its population, but experienced a third peak of the coronavirus wave in mid-April, which is only just starting to recede.
His use of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine – estimated to be around 50% effective – is believed to have played a significant role in the number of cases in Chile.
Chinese Sinopharm vaccines used in Seychelles are believed to be more effective, with provisional figures suggesting they were around 86% effective against Covid-19.
However, no detailed vaccine efficacy data has been published in peer-reviewed journals.
The new measures were announced by Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon at a press conference on Tuesday, following a meeting of the country’s COVID-19 platinum committee on Monday.
“This is an upward trend. We don’t know how long this will last, but it will depend on the measures taken and how the new measures are respected, ”she said.
The new measures will also include a ban on mixing of households, certain types of gatherings and the early closure of shops, bars and casinos. Non-essential workers are also encouraged to work from home and an 23-hour curfew will remain in place. Pictured: People wearing masks line up to vote in the country’s presidential elections last year [file photo]
Pictured: Passengers leave a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that made Aeroflot – Russian Airlines’ first SU244 flight to Mahe Island since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on April 2, 2021
Of the 1,068 active cases in the country, 84 percent are among Seychellois, with 16 percent among foreigners.
The latest measures – similar to those imposed in the country at the end of 2020 – will be reviewed around May 24 and, depending on the situation, will either be lifted or extended, health officials said.
Seychelles, with a population of around 98,000, is heavily dependent on tourism for much of its foreign trade.
Travel Weekly reported last month that Seychelles could be one of 30 countries on the green list for trips expected by the UK from May 17.
However, it was later reported by Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, that Seychelles could be one of the countries to remain on the Amber List.
“We are concerned about a possible increase in #India-related infections in #Seychelles #SriLanka and #Maldives, so these will not be green on May 17th,” he wrote.
Officials told the press conference that the Perseverance Family Hospital – the main COVID-19 treatment center in Seychelles – was operating at capacity.
“It means the amount of bed we need to expand. It is for this reason that we are studying another possibility for the patients of the Anse Royale hospital ”, explained Peggy Vidot.
“Obviously, when we have a pandemic like this, and we have seen the number of health workers infected, there will always be workers who will be absent because they have contracted the virus or because they have been infected. there is a contact, so it’s always a pressure on human resources. ‘
Vidot added: “For now, we assure the public that with our current capabilities, we can continue our services. “
The country’s health professionals have renewed their call for its citizens to cooperate by wearing masks, disinfecting their hands, practicing social distancing and respecting new restrictions to limit community transmissions.