Coronavirus (COVID-19) IEG Update

  • Management of first positive cases of COVID-19
  • Yachting visitors to the Island
  • Vaccination programme
  • Flights in June and August

‘To be prepared to respond in a practical way to minimise the risk of COVID-19 reaching the general populous of St Helena’ is the primary objective of St Helena’s COVID-19 Strategy.   It was proven over recent weeks that with efficient planning of operations and adhering to Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) these objectives of the COVID-19 strategy have been achieved and the risk to the community can be kept extremely low. This is particularly important as the Island moves toward the next objective which is to ‘Plan for the future’.     

Management of the first positive cases of COVID-19

During the month of March, St Helena’s COVID-19 strategy and protocols were tested when authorities received two SOLAS (safety of life at sea) requests from fishing vessels. All persons involved in operations for both vessels did so under the SOP’s for COVID-19. 

It was confirmed that some of the crew members aboard one of the vessels were positive for COVID-19. Where cases can be managed on board, this will be the preferred course of action. This was the case on this occasion and worked well, with the vessel remaining in St Helena waters to receive advice and support from the Health Directorate when needed. Unfortunately, at a later stage, frontline workers were required to extract one crew member from this vessel to take to Bradley’s Hospital for medical attention.

In the case of the second vessel, there were no COVID-19 cases on board but a crew member required urgent medical treatment.  Frontline workers also extracted the crew member from this vessel and provided medical attention at Bradley’s Hospital.

Both of the crew members were successfully evacuated to South Africa to receive further medical treatment.   

During this time there was also a positive COVID-19 result identified through testing on arrival following the flight from the UK. Subsequent tests were found to be negative. This case was managed within home quarantine, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, and was, after repeatedly providing negative test results, able to complete and leave home quarantine. The risk to St Helena’s community was avoided and St Helena remains COVID-19 free.

Yachting visitors to the Island

On 9 March 2021, the Incident Executive Group (IEG) repealed Immigration Regulations that restricted entry to St Helena. This change took effect from 1 April 2021 and, as a result, individuals can now enter St Helena (by air or sea), subject to conditions contained within the Immigration Ordinance and the Public Health (Coronavirus) Regulations, which includes a strict testing regime and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Since 1 April, 14 yachts have been cleared to enter St Helena. Before being allowed to come ashore the crews of these yachts are all subjected to the Public Health (Coronavirus) Regulations. This involves completing a minimum of fourteen days under quarantine conditions, either at sea (which must be verified by the vessels official logbooks) or, for any vessels who have not been at sea for 14 days or more, quarantine aboard their yacht until such time has lapsed. All crew members are then required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before being allowed to come ashore and enter St Helena. 

When arriving yachts are within 10-15 miles of James Bay, they receive radio instructions from Port Control of the quarantine and entry control requirements before they will be allowed ashore. These include:

  • Flying a yellow flag. This is the internationally recognised signal that a vessel is under quarantine and has not been cleared for entry by Port Control
  • Remaining on board their own vessel and not visiting other yachts until they have been cleared
  • Providing their documentation showing their last port of call and the personal details of all crew members

These requirements are reinforced by documentation delivered to the yacht by Port Control.  Health and Port Control staff adhere to the PPE requirements when going to the vessels for various reasons, including for testing purposes. Only after negative test results are confirmed will the Health Directorate, Port Control, Customs and Immigration agree a time/day for the crew(s) to be able to come ashore.   

Vaccination Programme

The Health Directorate started the rollout of the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine on Tuesday, 6 April, with 899 second doses being administered during four days of clinics and residential visits as well as the long term care facilities and the prison.

The first dose of the vaccine was administered to over 93% of the eligible population and as of Friday, 9 April, over 26% of the eligible population had received the second dose and were fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Vaccination clinics will continue until 24 April. Persons who have not yet received their second dose are still able to do so by calling the Health Directorate to make these arrangements.     

Summary of Vaccines Administered to date (up to and including Friday 9th April, 2021)

Total Adult Population
(Over 18)
Cumulative Total
Number of Vaccines administered to date
Cumulative Total First DoseCumulative Total Second Dose   
As a figureAs a % of populationAs a figureAs % of populationAs a figureAs % of population
  3,800*  4,5723,563    93.7%1,009 26.6%

*The total adult population (3,800) figure has been taken from the 2016 Census.

Flights in June and August

St Helena Government is in the process of arranging further Titan Airways charter flights to fly to St Helena in June and August 2021. It is anticipated these flights will arrive in the weeks commencing 21 June and 9 August.

The Island has returned to the immigration arrangements for flights that were in place prior to 31 December 2020. This means that more seats on the plane will be available and travel to the Island for reasons other than essential travel will be permitted. Immigration and Public Health (Coronavirus) Regulations remain in place for those seeking to travel to St Helena.

All arrivals from the UK will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test before departure, will be further tested on arrival to St Helena, and will be required to enter 14 days of quarantine at a pre-arranged location. Following the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, a further negative COVID-19 test result is required before being allowed to finish quarantine and enter into the community. Due to testing and security capacities on-Island, seats on the flights will be limited to 96 passengers. If there is a high demand for seats on any flight, bookings will be prioritised for returning St Helenians, key workers and other family members.

#StHelena #COVID-19 #IEG #Update

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SHG
14 April 2021   

St Helena Government Press Office

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