President Ramkalawan: Seychelles remains safe destination, vaccination campaign effective
(Seychelles News Agency) – In an exclusive interview with the Seychelles News Agency on Monday, Seychelles’ head of state – President Wavel Ramkalawan – said the island nation remains a safe destination for visitors and that the The archipelago’s leading vaccination campaign had proven to be effective.
President Ramkalawan said the Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – are well equipped to manage the COVID-19[female[feminine and will start immunizing children aged 15 and over in the near future.
The President noted that Seychelles is a world leader in terms of the percentage of its population that has been vaccinated. Despite this success, the number of COVID cases has increased recently, raising eyebrows and questions and bringing shine to the global media.
The president stressed that the vast majority of new cases involved people not yet fully vaccinated.
SNA: Mr. President, what is the current COVID situation in Seychelles?
WR: It seems that over the past two weeks the number of cases has increased. We were fine, but unfortunately with the success of our vaccination we saw that people felt more comfortable and that came after the country opened on March 25. One of the things that I think is worth noting is that the arrival of tourists from Israel, a country that excels in the vaccination program, is significant.
What we can say is that the people who are not vaccinated and who are against vaccines are the people who are sick. We have seen the number of cases; these are people who have not taken any vaccines or people who have only received their first dose. I should also add that admission cases represent 75-80% of unvaccinated people.
These people need to be hospitalized and that in itself shows us that the vaccination has had an impact. We are handling the COVID situation well, no one dies on the streets as we see in some countries, people are treated and can go home. But it is important to mention that to date, Seychelles has not recorded any death cases of fully vaccinated people. And it showed us the effectiveness of vaccination.
SNA: People say that Sinopharm and Covidshield are not effective on people, is that true?
WR: No. I have been following the debates about our immunization schedule and automatically, Western countries administering mainly Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, and to some extent AstraZeneca, have claimed to have better vaccines so their cases are dropping. But no, we cannot compare people who have been vaccinated to those who have not. So today there are people who have received Sinopharm and Covidshield vaccinations, and it should be noted that here in Seychelles, we have given Covidshield to people over 60 and Sinnopharm to people aged 18 to 60.
We saw, for example, a situation at the nursing home where patients who had only received a single dose of Covidshield were infected.
There were no lives lost and the patients recovered; it is the effectiveness of the vaccine. And after that, when we look among the population of people between the ages of 18 and 60 who have received Sinopharm. If the vaccine was not effective, people would have died when infected and there would have been many more people requiring hospitalization.
But what we saw and as I say, in this age group of people requiring hospitalization, 80% were not vaccinated. Again, this reflects the effectiveness of vaccines. And we want to say that the two vaccines Sinopharm and Covidshield AstraZeneca have served our population very well.
people can be infected, but they are not sick. Only a small number are. Isn’t that how the vaccine is supposed to help us. So what is happening is normal.
Seychelles is under the microscope because it is a history of successful vaccination, while the Maldives, where the frequency of Covid doubled last week from around 500 to 1,200 is not.
|The President said: “We are happy that Seychelles is leading the world and that the world can use us as an example.” (State House) Photo license: CC-BY|
SNA: How is the infection rate in the country, is it stable, how is it?
WR: Yes, what we’re seeing now is a surge, and it’s still something that happens in all countries after a period of stability; that’s why we call it a wave. You have a period of stability and then a wave comes, then comes stability and yet another wave. The Seychelles are crossing this wave. Seychelles is not experiencing anything extraordinary. All countries are riding a wave, even in countries where they are experiencing declines. We don’t know when another wave will hit. Seychelles is riding the wave but the country is in the limelight simply because of our success.
Small Seychelles as we are, we are the first in the world and we remain the first in the world in terms of vaccination. The world is following us to see what will happen to its effectiveness and how vaccines are analyzed. Second, we will need to know – and research will be done in terms of antibodies – how long the antibodies that come from vaccines live in your body before you need a third dose. We are happy that Seychelles is leading the world and that the world can use us as an example.
But the small Seychelles also gave vaccines to all foreigners working in our country. Along with seafarers, Seychelles is an example to the world because not only do we take care of our own, but we take care of every resident of our country, in the same spirit of the WHO Secretary-General who said not to not just choosing who can be vaccinated but rather all can be vaccinated. Once again, Seychelles will lead the way in reviewing vaccines for children aged 15 and over. Soon, Seychelles could become the first in the world to administer vaccines to this age group. Maybe I should also mention that we in Seychelles take the COVID situation very seriously and that is why the minute the vaccines were available we entered the vaccination program. Secondly, when we felt that our population had received protection, we started to remove the restrictions, we allowed the children to go to school, and here we had extraordinary success because the number of children who have contracted the virus is minimal. It also helped.
We have also reopened businesses so people can get on with their lives. I have to say that here in Seychelles we are proactive and proactive, of course things are going to happen. We will continue to move forward to prove that we take the COVID situation very seriously.
SNA: Is the Seychelles a safe destination for tourists?
WR: The number of visitors we have received since the airport opened has increased. And on the other hand, the number of tourists identified as positive is almost zero. This shows that Seychelles is safe, tourists can come on vacation. On our side, we take precautions to protect our population in our daily life and on the other hand, we have created the space for tourists to come and enjoy their vacation without risking infection. The Seychelles therefore remain safe.
|“Today we also have a clinic that can perform up to 30,000 PCR tests per day. And any tourist coming to Seychelles can have the PCR test, ”Ramkalawan said. (Seychelles Medical Services) Photo license: CC-BY|
SNA: Can our health system handle our current situation?
WR: We have found that the people in need of hospitalization are people who may have a high fever or need oxygen, and so far, everything is fine. We take care of our people: Actually speaking to you now, there are only two people on a ventilator and they have had other health complications in the past. And that in itself shows that we take care of people; they are admitted and then released. They haven’t been hospitalized for a long time.
So my message to the world, don’t let the numbers worry you. Understand that we have the opportunity to serve those who need oxygen and those who have complications and that is why COVID-related mortality in Seychelles is one of the lowest in the world. We can handle the situation and we stay safe.
SNA: Mr. President, does the country have the capacity to carry out PCR tests?
Today we also have a clinic that can perform up to 30,000 PCR tests per day. And any tourist coming to Seychelles can take the PCR test. The new lab can perform tests on any main island and it also has a swab base at the international airport. With all this, we want to give confidence to tourists. They can do their tests, get their results in time to go back to their country. The Seychelles are equipped to face all situations, our hospital and private clinics are equipped to provide the necessary care.