The Public Health Commissioner has once again appealed to members of the public to refrain from traveling to Madagascar in light of the current plague outbreak in the country in an interview on Monday 16th October 2017.
Dr Jude Gedeon was giving an update on the current state of alert for the plague in Seychelles in view of the outbreak in Madagascar, and the measures that continue to be in place.
After pointing out that the Ministry of Health had not yet received any further updates on the plague that was ravaging cities in Madagascar but that the figures remain high, Dr Gedeon underscored the travel advisory erected following the plague alert.
“We weren’t able to get an update on the situation from WHO or Authorities in Madagascar. We also tried to get some information through the SEGA network, the Indian Ocean Commission, but this was not possible,” Dr Gedeon said.
“They have been reporting cases of death every day and the plague remains a strong concern for us,” he added. Dr Gedeon further emphasised that control measures put in place would not be removed nor reduced. Rather, these will intensify.
Currently the national airline, Air Seychelles has ceased all flights to Madagascar. However, there is a need to remain vigilant of others entering via other routes.
“Health officers at the airport will have a list of people coming in from Madagascar via other routes, they identify them and take them straight into active surveillance at the military academy in Perseverance. Foreign nationals are also taken into active surveillance until they can get their flight back. And we’re also getting help from immigration who check for people who do not report that that they port of embarkation was Madagascar.”
Passengers at the airport are also given Health Declaration Forms to fill out upon entry. This complemented with temperature scanning done on each and every one entering the airport to check for fever. Dr Gedeon also emphasised on measures at the port which were already in place for both cargo and cruise ships and others that would be fortified.
“We are making some amendments, because we had previously said that a ship needed to be at sea for at least 7 days before travelling from Madagascar,” Dr Gedeon explained.
“But, we’ve noticed that some people take the plane to Mauritius from Madagascar and join the cruise while it’s already on its way?” he added, emphasising how these ships will not be allowed entry in the port.
Plague is caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, a bacteria usually found in small mammals and their fleas. People infected with Y. pestis often develop symptoms after an incubation period of one to seven days. There are two main forms of plague, these are bubonic and pneumonic. There is both a bubonic and pneumonic plague outbreak in Madagascar. According to the latest press release from the Ministry of Health, the epidemic is now in 38 of the 114 districts of Madagascar. Antananarivo is the most affected city. On 16th Oct 2017, 805 cases were reported (595 pneumonic and 210 bubonic). There has been 74 deaths.