As I said last Friday: in order for us to confront this virus and emerge victorious, we must always be on our guard. This means that it is essential that we continue to respect all the measures emanating from the authorities and that we continue to strengthen the physical distancing.
As of yesterday, we have only registered 10 patients who have tested positive here in Seychelles. Unfortunately, we have registered a new case today.
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that our first Seychellois patient, who tested positive for COVID-19 on 14 March, is now cured after testing negative more than twice.
A second patient, a Dutch woman who tested positive for COVID-19 on 15 March, has also been cured after testing negative more than twice. Her husband, who was in critical condition and breathing with the help of a ventilator, is now breathing on his own. He speaks and is no longer in critical condition. Both patients who tested negative will leave the treatment centre this week as they have been cured. This means that we have 9 patients who are still positive.
Tonight I would like to offer a special word of encouragement to the health workers at Perseverance Treatment Centre.
The Ministry of Health has made arrangements for a transitional facility for all patients leaving the treatment centre to stay before returning home.
We are still committed to taking care of our health staff. We have found accommodation where all health staff working directly with the patients and the quarantine staff can stay. This is to eliminate risks to their family and loved ones during this time.
Before the end of April, medical professionals from Kenya will arrive and stay here for a period of 3 months. They will provide some respite for our medical staff.
Tomorrow, 7 April, is World Health Day. Here in Seychelles, 7 April is also traditionally Health Workers' Day.
I would like to appeal to each of us to show our appreciation to our health workers. I would like to appeal to everyone to express our gratitude tomorrow morning at 9am. Wherever we are, let's give them a huge round of applause.
It is this large amount of women and men of all ages who sacrifice a lot to do a difficult and often thankless job that we need to appreciate more today and in the future. This fight against the coronavirus has made us better understand and more aware of what they go through every day.
So far, all the measures we have taken are helping us in this fight against the coronavirus.
April is a critical month for all of us.
Unser Flughafen bleibt bis zum 30. April geschlossen. Wir haben die Kontrollen am Hafen verstärkt. Wir werden neue Maßnahmen zur Seeüberwachung anwenden. Jede Person, die sich heute in Quarantäne befindet, wird ihre 14 Tage abschließen, und wir hoffen, dass die verbleibenden Patienten ihre Gesundheit wiedererlangen und negativ getestet werden.
If we all continue to follow the measures in place, continue to practice preventive measures as per the Ministry of Health guidelines and get through this month without any signs of community transmission of this disease, we will be able to lift certain measures and reopen 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 disease by sea. With COVID-19 in the region, it is imperative that we prevent infected people from entering Seychelles who could spread the virus among our people.
During the month of April, no yachts will have the right to enter our territory.
We will also increase our maritime surveillance so that we know where the ships are at any given time and if there are boats entering our territory.
As a result, it will be mandatory that tracking systems such as VMS remain switched on at all times on all vessels. If these devices are switched off at any time, it will be a criminal offence under the law. This measure will come into force immediately.
Seychellois brothers and sisters,
Currently, the number of cases of COVID-19 worldwide is increasing day by day. Every week that this continues, the economic damage as a result of this pandemic becomes greater and greater. Seychelles, with an economy that is fully linked 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 stated last Friday, after 12 years of economic progress, the Central Bank has successfully built up a good level of reserves. We have worked very hard together, all of us, to get our economy to where it is today. According to the Governor of the Central Bank, Ms Caroline Abel, without COVID-19, we would have seen a decline in the exchange rate this year.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is here and last week we recorded a huge drop in the amount of foreign exchange coming into our system. Compared to the previous week, when an average of $3 million a day entered our system, last week we registered less than $1 million a day.
What does that mean?
It means that with our floating exchange rate system, we expect the exchange rate to rise and foreign exchange to become more expensive. This will have a direct impact on our cost of living. It is therefore crucial that we rethink our spending to reduce the pressure on demand for foreign exchange at the individual, commercial and government levels.
During this pandemic, many demands have been made on us. After this pandemic, too, there will be many demands and a lot of hard work ahead of us. We have to start preparing ourselves mentally. Each of us will have to make certain sacrifices and many readjustments 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.
Tomorrow, in line with the government's policy on transparency, accountability and good governance, the Minister of Finance will present an amended budget for 2020. 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 have said before, Seychelles has entered an extraordinary phase. We are facing a new economic reality that requires new measures. We have put in place a social protection system that can help anyone who deserves it and is in need.
It is crucial 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 will adopt this budget before Easter.
I take this opportunity to thank private companies who are using their own resources to protect their employees during this extraordinary time. For those businesses that have been severely affected, I hope that government assistance, bank support and a reduction in fuel and electricity costs will help you get through these difficult times.
With the new measures, there are many workers and employers who want clarity. For this reason, the Ministry of Labour will have a special office on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue from tomorrow where workers and employers can get the necessary information and advice.
Difficult times should also be a time for solidarity. Tonight I would like to call on all owners who rent flats and business premises: Please do not raise your rents. And if it is possible, consider lowering your rents.
Together we have built a solid foundation. And now that we are in this new reality, we need the experience, determination and discipline that each of us possesses to build anew.
Unsere Zukunft wird zunehmend von den Anstrengungen abhängen, die jeder von uns unternimmt, um uns selbst, unsere Lieben und unsere Gesellschaft als Ganzes zu schützen. Dies ist ein entscheidender Moment, in dem sich unsere Nation für immer an ihre gemeinsamen Anstrengungen zum Schutz der Schwachen und zur Fürsorge für unsere Bürger erinnern wird.
Let us remain a people who show love and respect to others, and that we treat each other as we would like to be treated in return. Let us show solidarity and respect for those leaving 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 counter this pandemic.
I greatly appreciate the support that society as a whole has given to the Ministry of Health during this difficult time, including the DRDM, the Public Prosecution Service, the police, the SPDF, the Red Cross, religious organisations, civil society, the private sector and many others. Without their support, it would have been impossible to meet this challenge ahead.
I thank the many people and private companies who offer their help to the Ministry of Health in various ways. There are also many individuals who share their positivity through songs and videos. I thank them all.
At the beginning of this Holy Week, we thank God for all that we have been spared with His grace.
For our Christians it is the first time ever that we cannot gather during Holy Week. Thank you all for your understanding and sacrifice.
I wish all our Christian brothers and sisters a restful time of reflection and peaceful contemplation during this Holy Week and a Happy Easter.
May God continue to bless our Seychelles and protect our people.
I thank you and wish you a good evening.
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