According to a top official in Seychelles, health officials are collaborating with local shipping companies to vaccinate foreign seafarers on vessels fishing in the island nation’s waters.
Two seafarers, a Malagasy and an Indonesian, died of COVID-19 last month, prompting the decision. The two were from the Reunion-based Sapmer company’s Belle Isle tuna fishing vessel.
The deaths of the foreign crew members fishing in the waters of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, occurred in late March.
According to the Reunion la 1ere news service on Monday, the two sailors “felt the first symptoms of the disease while on board the tuna purse seiner. They were then transferred last week to an intensive care unit at Mahe hospital. Unfortunately, however, the two men did not survive. The 35 other sailors on board the Belle Isle have all tested positive for Covid-19. They were therefore placed in solitary confinement.”
On Wednesday, Danny Louange, the chief executive of the Seychelles Health Care Agency, informed The Seychelles Times that local health authorities are working on a programme to vaccinate the seafarers.
Ronny Matatiken, the Hunt Deltel company’s general manager of shipping and logistics, informed The Seychelles Times that all local companies have been working closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that all foreign seafarers based in Seychelles have been vaccinated.
“Fisheries is the one industry that is supporting the economy right now so we need to ensure that this is maintained and it is fitting that the crew who are based in Seychelles are in good health,” he stated.
“There is no point in vaccinating stevedores and workers of all the respective agencies and then seafarers are not vaccinated,” added Matatiken.
He reported that the pandemic has impacted all local shipping companies, with seafarers quarantined.
After arriving in Seychelles for a crew change for 26 Spanish tuna fishing vessels in June last year, more than 120 seafarers, mainly from five West African countries (Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Ghana), tested positive for COVID-19.
In the last update given by the health authorities in a press conference last week, Seychelles had recorded 4,259 cases and 24 deaths.