Schools in Seychelles were shuttered and sporting activities canceled under the new measures. The Seychellois government prohibited some types of gatherings and people from different households mixing together. Shops, bars and casinos were ordered to close early due to an 11 p.m. curfew, while non-essential workers were encouraged to work from home.
Seychelles commenced its mass immunization program in January 2021. It used Chinese Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by the United Arab Emirates and AstraZeneca vaccine doses from India. As of writing, 62.2 percent of Seychellois adults in the country had received two doses of the vaccines. Meanwhile, 68.82 percent of Seychellois adults had received at least one dose.
The country currently has 1,068 active COVID-19 cases – with one-third being detected in people fully vaccinated with either the AstraZeneca or Sinopharm vaccine. But Seychelles's close links to South Africa may point to the South African B1351 variant as behind the rise in infections. COVID-19 tests confirmed the presence of the strain which, according to scientists, can evade immunity and undermine vaccine protection by up to 30 percent.
Seychelles Health Minister Peggy Vidot remarked during a May 3 press conference: "Despite all of the exceptional efforts we are making, the [COVID-19] situation in our country is critical right now with many daily cases reported last week." The country reported 500 new infections – a record number – on the same day as Vidot's press conference.
Vidot and other Seychellois health officials did not elaborate on what was causing the spikes in the country's caseload. Instead, they attributed the surge to people "taking fewer precautions against the virus" this year compared to the previous year.
Seychellois citizens comprise 84 percent of the 1,068 active COVID-19 cases in the country. The remaining 16 percent of cases have been detected in foreigners. Given these figures, health professionals there have exhorted people to adhere to public health guidelines to curb new infections.
According to data from the Seychelles Ministry of Health, the country had a total of 531 coronavirus cases and one fatality back in January 2021. Seychellois President Wavel Ramkalawan announced the country's COVID-19 immunization drive that month. But since that period, the country's coronavirus figures ballooned to a total of 6,373 cases and 146 deaths. (Related: "Breakthrough" coronavirus cases still being reported, some even dying despite being fully vaccinated.)
Just like Seychelles, Chile saw a surge in COVID-19 cases despite its vaccination drive. The South American country used the Pfizer/BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines on its population. More than two-fifths of its population – 42.44 percent of Chileans – had received at least one dose of either vaccine.
Unfortunately, Chile's successful vaccination program did not prevent a wave of infections. According to a Guardian op-ed, Chile's vaccination drive may have instilled a false sense of security in citizens. The country reopened its borders in November 2020 and introduced permits for Chileans to go on summer vacation in January 2021. It also reopened schools, churches and other business establishments.
House cleaner Genoveva Fernandez cited an example of this false sense of security when she spoke with NBC News. "I see young people everywhere gathering in big groups. Masks are mandatory in Chile, but I see many youngsters with them around their chins, eating food on the subway [and] just not being careful," she said. "I think they believe the government is trying to manipulate them with the rules, but it just feels like they don't care about protecting … older [persons]."
Universidad del Desarrollo Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health Policy Studies Director Dr. Ximena Aguilera also pointed out the role of young people and increased movement in spreading the virus. She said: "Young people are drivers of the pandemic, but large increases in mobility over the recent summer also appear to be a major [cause] of the increase in infections."
All these factors led to Chile ordering a full lockdown on April 1. Seventy percent of Chileans were forced to quarantine inside their residences due to the lockdown order. Supermarket trips on weekends, previously allowed before the lockdown, were also banned. The mandate managed to stave off a peak of COVID-19 infections in the middle of that month.
Visit Pandemic.news to read more articles about COVID-19 infections persisting in countries that already vaccinated their citizens.