The island country of Seychelles on Thursday re-opened its doors to visitors from anywhere in the world as long as they have taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, a top tourism official said.
The Minister for Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde told a press conference that in addition to receiving the vaccine, the traveller must also produce a negative PCR test taken within the prior 72 hours.
Tourists to the island country of Seychelles must provide an authenticate certificate which serves as proof of receiving the vaccination. With all these in order, the visitor will not need to go into quarantine upon arrival.
In the last several months, Seychelles had put restrictions on which country’s tourists were eligible to travel to the island nation because of the surge in COVID cases experienced by many countries.
“We hope that this will open up the tourism industry for the locals, primarily for the small hotels who are struggling on La Digue, Praslin and also on Mahe. And also provide the kick that our economy desperately needs,” Radegonde explained.
Come mid-March, visitors to the islands will only be required to produce a negative PCR test as the country hopes to have vaccinated 70 percent of its local population, achieving herd immunity.
As of Thursday, close to 2,000 vaccinations had been administered in the country since the programme rolled out five days ago.
According to Kathleen Cecile, the head of the National Technical Working Group for COVID-19 vaccination, the programme had a slow start, but by Wednesday 938 people had taken the vaccine, bringing the campaign close to its target of 1,000 doses per day.
“Based on today’s figures we can confirm that one team reached its target of 200 vaccinations per day, and another team exceeded 100 vaccinations by midday today, and we except all the teams to reach the target of 200 vaccination per day as of today,” said Cecile.
To date, there have been no reports of serious adverse side effects of the vaccine on any person, Cecile said.
When the campaign began, there were four vaccination centres on the main island of Mahe, namely at the Yellow and Green Roof at the Seychelles Hospital, the ICCS and Anse Royale.
The fifth team of health professionals was covering the islands of Praslin and La Digue. However, since Sunday, the country’s health ministry revised its deployment plan to include more vaccination centres.
“We want to ensure that we remain on track of our March target of 70 percent coverage to achieve herd immunity, so we are now stepping up the campaign”, explained Cecile.
The new centers for vaccination have been set up in five workplaces which were already operating a daily clinic for their staff and which fall under the group of essential workers. This includes the military, the civil aviation, and the Indian Ocean tuna canning factory.
The Sinopharm vaccine is being given to persons within the ages of 18-year-olds up to 60-year-olds in the island nation. 50,000 doses of the vaccines were donated by the United Arab Emirates government which will cover 25,000 individuals in Seychelles.
According to Florida Bijoux, the manager for Extended Programme for Immunization, the first doses can be administered within two weeks.
“We have managed to organise nine teams, with a target of 200 vaccines per day, meaning 1,800 vaccines per day. If we get the other vaccines needed for the remainder of the campaign, in the coming weeks, we can easily vaccinate 44,000 people within a month,” she said.
People working in the tourism industry will also make up part of the list of essential workers wo will receive the vaccines.