Address by President Danny Faure on measures to address the COVID-19 situation (6 April 2020)

Address by President Danny Faure on measures to address the COVID-19 situation (6 April 2020)


6 April 2020

Compatriots,
Seychellois brothers and sisters,

The world continues to fight this invisible enemy. COVID-19 continues to ravage the world. In the space of just 10 days, the number of infected people worldwide has gone up from 500,000 to more than 1.2 million people. In the Western Indian Ocean today, almost 1000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.


As I said last Friday: in order for us to confront this virus and come out victorious, we need to always be on our guard. That is, it is imperative that we continue to respect all measures coming from the authorities and continue to reinforce physical distancing measures.

As of yesterday, we recorded only 10 patients that have tested positive here in Seychelles. Unfortunately, today we registered a new case.

It gives me great pleasure to share that our first Seychellois patient who tested positive for COVID-19 on 14 March, is now cured, having consistently tested negative on more than 2 occasions.

A second patient, a Dutch woman, who tested positive on 15 March, has also been cured, having consistently tested negative on more than 2 occasions. Her husband who was in critical condition and breathing on ventilator support, is now breathing on his own. He is talking and no longer in critical state. Both patients that tested negative will leave the treatment centre this week, as they have been cured. This means we have 9 patients who are still positive.

Tonight I would like to extend a special word of encouragement for the health workers at the treatment centre at Perseverance.

The Department of Health has made provisions for a transition facility for all patients that leave the treatment centre to stay before they return home.

We remain committed to take care of our health workers. We have identified accommodation where all health workers working directly with patients and those in the quarantine centre will be able to stay. This is to eliminate risk for their family and loved ones during this period.

Before the end of April, we will see the arrival of medical workers from Kenya who will be here for a period of 3 months. They will provide some respite for our health workers.

Tomorrow, 7 April, is World Health Day. Here in Seychelles, 7 April is traditionally also Health Workers’ Day. I would like to call upon each one of us to show our appreciation to our health workers. I would like to call upon everyone to express our gratitude at 9am tomorrow morning. Wherever we are, let us give them a huge round of applause.

It is this great multitude of women and men of all ages, that sacrifice a great deal to carry out a difficult and often thankless job, that we need to appreciate even more today and in future. This fight against coronavirus has made us better understand and more aware of what they go through every day.

Until now, all of the measures we have taken are helping us in this battle against the coronavirus.

April is a critical month for us all.

Our airport will remain closed until 30 April. We have reinforced controls at the port. We will be applying new maritime surveillance measures. Every person who is in quarantine today will complete their 14 days and we are hopeful that remaining patients will regain their health and test negative.

If we all continue to obey the measures in place, continue to practise preventive measures in line with the guidance from the Department of Health, and we get through this month with no evidence of community transmission of this illness, we will be able to lift certain measures and re-open schools in the first week of May. Let us keep our hope alive.

Tonight, I would like to announce new measures that will protect our people from the arrival of this illness by sea. With COVID-19 in the region, it is essential that we stop infected people from entering Seychelles who could spread the virus among our population.

During the month of April, no yachts will have the right to enter our territory.

We will also reinforce our maritime surveillance so that we know where vessels are located at any given moment and if there are any boats entering our territory.

Subsequently, it will be mandatory that tracking systems, such as VMS, on all vessels, stay on at all times. If this equipment is turned off at any moment, it will be a punishable offence under the law. This measure takes immediate effect.

Seychellois brothers and sisters,

At the moment, the number of cases of COVID-19 worldwide are increasing day by day. Each week that this continues, the economic damage as a result of this pandemic is increasingly severe. Seychelles, with an economy that is completely connected to the global economy, will not be spared. The International Monetary Fund, IMF, recently announced that the world economy is already in recession. This recession will be much worse than the economic crisis of 2008.

As I explained last Friday, after 12 years of economic progress, Central Bank successfully accumulated a good level of reserves. We worked very hard together, all of us, to bring our economy to where it is today. According to the Governor of Central Bank, Ms Caroline Abel, without COVID-19, this year we would have seen a drop in the exchange rate.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is here and last week we registered a huge drop in the amount of foreign exchange entering our system. Compared to the previous week, where on average 3 million Dollars entered our system daily, last week we registered less than 1 million Dollars entering the system each day.

What does this mean?

It means that with our floating exchange rate regime, we expect the foreign exchange rate to go up and foreign currency to become more expensive. This will have a direct impact on our cost of living. As a result, it is critical that we reconsider our spending to reduce the pressure on the demand for foreign exchange at the individual, commercial and governmental levels.

There have been many demands placed on us during this pandemic. There will also be many demands and a lot of hard work ahead of us after this pandemic. We need to start preparing ourselves mentally. There will be certain sacrifices and a lot of readjustment that each of us will have to make in the coming months. We need mutual understanding and cooperation. There is no place for confusion, propaganda, and cheap politics. What is important is solidarity and unity. I have great confidence in the Seychellois people, and we will overcome this economic crisis together.

Seychellois brothers and sisters,

Tomorrow, the Minister of Finance will present an amended Budget for 2020 in line with government policy on transparency, accountability and good governance. This is a budget that reconsiders and reprioritises Government spending for this year in light of the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have nothing to hide. As I said, Seychelles has entered an exceptional period. We are facing a new economic reality that necessitates new measures. We have put in place a social protection system that can help everyone deserving and in need.

It is critical that we all understand that we are in an emergency situation where every minute, every hour, and every day counts. I hope that the National Assembly approves this budget before Easter.

Seychellois brothers and sisters,

I take this opportunity to thank private businesses using their own means to protect their employees during this exceptional period. For businesses that have been badly affected, I hope that Government assistance, assistance from the banks, and a reduction in the price of fuel and cost of electricity will help you get through these difficult times.

With the new measures being taken, there are many employees and employers looking for clarity. It is for this reason that from tomorrow, the Department of Employment will have a special office on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue where employees and employers will be able to get the necessary information and guidance.

Difficult times should also be time for solidarity. Tonight I would like to call upon all proprietors renting homes and commercial spaces: please, do not increase your rental prices. And where it is possible, consider reducing the rental prices.

Seychellois brothers and sisters,

Together we have built a solid foundation. And now that we are in this new reality, we need the experience, determination and discipline possessed by each one of us to build anew.

Our future will increasingly depend on the efforts that each of us makes to keep ourselves safe, keep our loved ones safe, and our society as a whole. This is a defining moment in which our nation will forever remember its collective effort to protect the vulnerable and care for our citizens.

Let us remain a people that shows love and respect for others, and that we treat each other how we would like to be treated in return. Let us show solidarity and respect for those who leave the treatment centre.

Let us stay well-informed. Let us stay calm. Let us stay united.

Health workers, volunteers and many others continue to work extremely hard, day and night, to face this pandemic.

I greatly appreciate the support that society as a whole is giving the Department of Health in this difficult time, including DRDM, the Attorney General’s Office, the Police, SPDF, the Red Cross, religious organisations, Civil Society, Private sector and many others. Without their support it would have been impossible to overcome this challenge ahead of us.

I thank the great number of people and private businesses that are offering to help the Department of Health in various ways. There are also many individuals sharing positivity through songs and videos. I thank them all.

Seychellois brothers and sisters,

At the start of this Holy Week, we thank God for all that we have been spared with His grace.

For our Christians, this is the first time ever that we will not able to gather during Holy Week. I thank you all for your understanding and sacrifice.

I wish all our Christian brothers and sisters a restful period of reflection and peaceful contemplation during this Holy Week, and a happy Easter.

May God continue to bless our Seychelles and protect our people.

Thank you and good evening.