Ramping up its response to COVID-19, Seychelles as of Wednesday will ban visitors from Europe, Mayotte and Reunion — two French overseas departments in the Indian Ocean.
The move is in line with a global response increasingly concerned with preventing a massive wave of infections that overwhelm medical facilities
“Seychellois who are currently in Europe and wants to enter Seychelles will be able to do so, but they will go into an obligatory quarantine for 14 days,” said Jude Gedeon, the health commissioner following a high-level Economic Forum at State House.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, already has a ban on travel (apart from returning residents) to from China, including the Special Administrative Region (SAR), South Korea and Iran.
He added that as of Sunday, Seychelles had three confirmed case and this afternoon “we got the result of a Dutch which brings the total cases to four. All of the four people are in the isolation centre being treated and their states are not critical.”
The Economic Forum brought together the seven most important sectors of the economy to look at the action Seychelles has to take as the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We looked at what more we can do to protect Seychellois, our health and the food security of the country. We need to concentrate our efforts and money in these areas,” said Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, Minister of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning.
|The agriculture ministry has seen and analysed the potential to import goods in certain countries in the region. (Seychelles Trading Company) Photo License: CC-BY|
He said that there is a need to for his ministry to relook at the current budget and that “as the Minister of Finance, I will have to bring a new budget before the national assembly for approval.”
Loustau-Lalanne said the approved 2020 budget will need to change to prioritise health and food security among others.
“We want to ensure that Seychellois remain in their employment, we want to make sure that if businesses have problems that we can help them with a certain moratorium in certain areas that we will later announce, and at the same time we want to make sure that health and food security come first,” he said.
Loustau-Lalanne said that President Danny Faure will announce further changes in an address on Friday.
The Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Antoine Marie Moustache said the ministry has seen and analyse potential to import goods in certain countries in the region.
“We need to be importing food that is essential for our survival. We have looked at Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Mauritius. These countries are close to us and it will facilitate transportation. We have seen that there are things that we can import if there is a lack of food in the country,” he said.
Meat can be imported from South Africa and Ethiopia, and vegetables from Kenya and rice from Madagascar said the principal secretary.
“The second factor we have looked at in terms of food security is the ability to ensure national production. There is little participation of the private sector in agriculture locally. Therefore, we need to look our stock for fertilisers,” he said.
Moustache said that stock will last up for three months and requested have been made for more and expected to arrive in the country in the next 25 days.
According to the ministry of agriculture, there are approximately 492 farmers operating in the island nation.
“We have already interacted with a local company producing animal food to see how they can assist in this time of crisis. They have enough stock to support us in the months to come,” said Marie-Moustache.
On his side, the Chairperson of the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce (SCCI), Oliver Bastienne, members of the private sector raised many implications of the COVID-19 in a survey conducted.
He said the private sector would like the government to understand the implication of what is happening to business cash flows and employees.
“With Central Bank, we spoke on the issue of a possible loan scheme, can we have a moratorium on interests’ payment and capital repayment and again these are discussion we need to have with the Bankers Association because we all have to play our roles,” said Bastienne.