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Seychelles removed as 'country of concern'

Children playing at Six Senses' Zil Pasyon resort in the Seychelles.

Australia has dropped Seychelles from its list of ‘countries of concern’, according to a statement from the Australian prime minister.

Due to fear over the spread of the omicron variant, Australia had banned entry from a number of nations in the southern Africa region, including the island nation of Seychelles. However, as omicron has so far not been detected in the Indian Ocean islands, the Australian government confirmed that Seychelles was removed from the list on November 29.

“Upon further advice (from Australia’s chief medical officer) Seychelles has been removed from the list of countries of concern,” said prime minister Scott Morrison.

The removal follows intervention by Seychelles’ Foreign Affairs Department. The department noted that Seychelles continues to uphold strong health measures. All arrivals must have a negative PCR departure test and can only holiday in accommodation that have been certified as ‘COVID-safe’ by the Ministry of Health. Masks must be worn in public places.

“We have taken all the steps to ensure the safety of our visitors and our own population, and visitors to Seychelles can make the most of their holidays and our destination in all serenity,” said Sylvestre Radegonde, minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism.

Entry into Seychelles from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe is prohibited. Seychelles residents returning from these areas must quarantine and take a further PCR test on day five. Air Seychelles has cancelled flights between Seychelles and Johannesburg.

Seychelles has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and is currently ‘boosting’ its adult population with PfizerBioNTech. The country reopened in March 2021 and has enjoyed a strong rebound in tourism, which in turn has driven the recovery of its economy. Sherin Francis, principal secretary for Tourism, noted that the islands have witnessed “a marked improvement in air connectivity over the past few months.

“We also saw corresponding numbers of visitors disembarking in our tiny paradise,” she said. “I am forever grateful to our ever-supportive partners who have pulled through this time of struggle, collaborating with one another to help the progression of our industry.”

Australia has so far detected a handful of cases of omicron, including the first confirmed case of community transmission.

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