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DoH ends pre-travel COVID testing requirement for travel to Apia

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Frequent travelers suggest checking with Samoa Health Ministry first

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Among the updates provided by the Health Department Situational Report to the COVID-19 Task Force briefing on Tuesday afternoon, is the end of pre-travel testing to enter Samoa and that the number of local COVID-19 positive cases continues to decline — at less than 30.

DoH reports that pre-travel testing for COVID-19 is no longer required when traveling to Samoa, except if required for transit through the Independent State.

Lifting this requirement will be welcomed by local residents traveling to Apia  — especially last minute travelers trying to get the required test at the DoH lab in Tafuna that is the designated testing site on island.

Some frequent travelers to Apia, when asked for comments by Samoa News on the pre-travel testing, strongly suggested that future passengers should still communicate directly with the Samoa Health Ministry before traveling by emailing or pertaining to any updated travel advice, and to prevent any delays and problems prior to entering Apia.

And this is also suggested for passengers coming from the U.S, on Hawaiian Airlines flights through American Samoa, and heading to Apia.

At Tuesday’s task force briefing, DoH report shows the number of COVID-19 positive cases from the community spread of the pandemic remains at double-digits, but continues to decline, while the number of COVID-19 related deaths remains at 34.

Compared to the previous weekly reports, the latest DoH report shows a drop in the number of individuals being tested.

For example, DoH reports 21 new COVID positives from the 1,835 individuals tested at DoH clinics on Tutuila and LBJ Medical Center for the week of Aug. 29 to Sept. 04 — compared to the previous week with 3,716 individuals tested resulting in 41 new positives.  In the three-previous weeks, the number of individuals tested was above the 3,000 mark.

The DoH report shows that the 21 new positives were recorded at DoH clinics, and that LBJ is no longer a public testing site. LBJ had previously reported to the task force that they would only conduct tests for individuals entering the hospital facility but no longer would the hospital be a testing site for members of public, who will be referred to DoH clinics.

With the 21 new positives, total cumulative COVID-19 count stands at 8,217 since the first community case was recorded on Feb. 28, while there are 28 active cases — which are all on Tutuila island with no active cases in the Manu’a island group.

The DoH report also provided a summary of the Hawaiian Airlines fight from Honolulu on Sept. 05 only — but none for the flight last week Thursday — Sept. 01

According to DoH, the TALOFAPass websystem — which screens entry into the territory — registered 294 passengers while the Hawaiian Airlines passenger manifest shows 255. Two travelers didn’t register on TALOFAPass but no information was provided as to what action was taken — if any — on the travelers who didn’t register.

DoH said that 255 travelers were COVID-19 tested and six of them were positive. As in the usual protocol, positive cases are placed in isolation for a certain period of time.

And the DoH report no longer provides information on flights from Samoa and none for DoH operations at the Port of Pago Pago for incoming vessels.