Coronavirus (COVID-19) – St Helena Preparedness Update

Coronavirus-Graphic
  • Airport Directorate exploring options to organise further charter flight in the next month or two
  • Health Directorate continues to seek other options to facilitate medical referrals
  • Social/Physical Distancing advice suspended
  • IEG agrees short term changes to enable St Helena to re-engage with the rest of the world

St Helena Government (SHG) continues to monitor possible threats to the community and to prepare control arrangements for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The preventative measures on the Island are under constant review by SHG to ensure that they are working and new information is taken into account.   

At Monday’s monthly meeting of the Incident Executive Group (IEG), members discussed the Island’s preparedness, the latest travel developments and St Helena’s physical requirements in the coming months.

Arrivals and Quarantine Arrangements

South Africa has relaxed their lockdown restrictions to level 3, which allows limited domestic flights within the country. International flights are not expected to resume until the country moves to level 1 or 0 – when this will happen is currently not known. It was considered by the IEG as reasonable to assume that scheduled commercial air services to the Island will not commence within the next three months.

IEG was advised several people on-Island and in the UK have registered with the Tourist Office as having an essential or necessary requirement to travel. Accordingly, IEG decided it was becoming necessary to arrange a further charter flight in the next month or two. The Airport Directorate was tasked with looking into affordable options. An update with more details will be issued as soon as practicable.

If you are concerned about departing or returning to St Helena and have not yet registered with the Tourist Office please contact: christina.plato@tourism.co.sh or call: (00290) 22158 to register your details.

All new arrivals to St Helena will continue to be subject to legally required 14-day quarantine at Bradley’s Camp or another suitable location as directed by a Proper Officer. New arrivals are tested for COVID-19 after the 14 days quarantine as an extra reassurance.

Three passengers arriving on the MV Helena from Ascension Island on compassionate grounds have been given an exemption by Executive Council from quarantine at Bradley’s Camp due to having been in quarantine for an extended period of time on Ascension Island. These passengers will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival to St Helena. Ascension Island, like St Helena, does not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19.

There is currently one resident in quarantine at Bradley’s Camp having arrived on the last call of the MV Helena from Cape Town. Bradley’s Camp continues to operate well.

Medical Referrals

South Africa continues to accept only urgent and life threatening medical evacuation cases and no accompanying family members.

The Health Directorate is still seeking other options to facilitate medical referrals and the public will be kept updated when more information is known.  

Social/Physical Distancing and good hand hygiene

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on St Helena. With capacity to now control arrivals, provide increased medical care and specialist testing for COVID-19 on-Island, the IEG has agreed that current Social/Physical Distancing advice can be suspended. If in the future a case of the virus (outside of Bradley’s Camp) is identified on the Island the IEG will be able to re-introduce the measure.

Organisations may now resume their normal activities or social events.

The IEG still strongly advise that the community continue with good hand hygiene practices. Remember:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue to prevent the spread of germs and viruses. Discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with a virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer a virus from the surface to yourself
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

IEG noted that there has been information received that good personal hygiene has contributed towards reducing the incidence of regular colds and flu.

Re-engagement with the rest of the world

Currently, entry to St Helena is restricted to Saints and residents. No one sector of the economy or public service is immune from the downturn in income to the Island, with the tourism sector the most visibly impacted at the present time. Many countries around the world are now beginning to find ways with precautions to re-open their borders to business and non-resident visitors.

Taking this into account the IEG has agreed to the following short-term changes:

  • Entry requirements to St Helena will be amended to permit any foreign national to be allowed to enter St Helena, subject to the established immigration rules, quarantine regulations and testing requirements
  • Marine vessels will be allowed to enter port and the crew subsequently permitted to enter St Helena after they have completed 14 days quarantine, display no COVID-19 symptoms and as an extra reassurance have tested negative for COVID-19 on the fourteenth day of quarantine
  • The 14 days quarantine period for those arriving on marine vessels will now be defined as the absence of COVID-19 for 14 days. The 14 days will be counted to  include days spent at sea (based on official ship’s records),  days  spent  quarantining on a vessel in St Helena waters or  days spent quarantining  at Bradley’s Camp  or another suitable  location. This is similar to arrangements in some other overseas territories
  • The current 14-day quarantine arrangements at Bradley’s Camp remain the same for air arrivals for the time being
  • A mutual recognition exemption from quarantine may be possible for those countries and territories that St Helena recognises as COVID-19 free (e.g. Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, and Falkland Islands). This option will be explored further with at first Ascension Island in the coming weeks. Such an arrangement relies on the other territory (ies) agreeing to recognise St Helena’s COVID-19 free status too. This mutual recognition arrangement is foreseen to be for those individuals who have completed a 14-day or longer quarantine period at these territories without any infection. Passengers would still be tested for COVID-19  on arrival at St Helena as an extra reassurance measure.

At present, there are no flights and potentially only a very small number of visiting marine vessels. Opening up in this limited way to arrivals with proportionate, preventative measures in place is regarded as a manageable, practical measure and signals that the Island is still engaged with the wider world.

For further details on St Helena’s COVID-19 preparedness please visit our online FAQ: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/coronavirus-COVID-19-live-qa/.

#StHelena #Coronavirus #COVID-19 #AltogetherHealthier

SHG

24 June 2020 

St Helena Government Press Office

Telephone: 22470
Email: liam.yon@sainthelena.gov.sh