COVID-19 testing shows that South African variant is present in Seychelles
COVID-19 samples tested at a laboratory in Kenya show that the South African variant is present in the island nation, said a top health official, though infection numbers are dropping thanks to Seychelles’ world-leading vaccination rate.
The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, told a press conference on Thursday that 30 samples taken from June last year to March were sent for testing at the Kemri lab in Kenya a few weeks ago, and that 14 of those samples were evaluated.
“Out of the 14, four samples collected in February had the South African variant while the other 10 had the original strain of the virus. This means that there are no other variants seen among the samples tested,” said Gedeon.
He said that the results confirm the health authorities’ observations of the epidemiological behavior of the virus in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
“The rapidity of the transmission was showing that something had changed with the infection capacity of the virus. When you do statistical analyses it does not necessarily mean that people are more ill but their ability to infect others were more than the strain we had previously,” he added.
Gedeon said this means that all prevention measures must be practiced at all times and moving forward “more genomic or variant testing of samples will be done now and then for us to see what are the changes in the strain that are circulating.”
Currently, visitors from South Africa cannot travel directly to Seychelles although the island nation is open to visitors from other countries since March 25. The island nation is currently on the UK’s red list amid concerns about new COVID-19 variants, such as those first identified in South Africa.
The good news is that the rate of infections is going down among people who are vaccinated and presently 66,250 people in Seychelles have received a first dose of either Covishield or Sinopharm vaccines, which is 95 percent of the target population of 70,000. A total of 48,142 people amounting to 69 percent have received both doses.
Seychelles has recorded 4,765 cases of COVID-19 among which 389 including six health workers are still active.
Gedeon said there are five clusters of infection among construction workers on Mahe, the main island, and one on Desroches.