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DoH reportedly disappointed over Gov's decision on Antarctica flight

The Dept. of Health logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Department of Health apparently set up a plan to accommodate the US government mission to Antarctica which was later denied access by the local governor.

Three planes carrying 31 people were due to arrive in American Samoa last weekend and it was planned that the travellers would overnight at the government quarantine facility before continuing on to New Zealand and then to a research station in Antarctica.

The Department of Health (DOH) submitted all of the health requirements for Covid-19 to the organizers of the mission, including a 10-day quarantine period in Honolulu before reaching American Samoa.

However, while in Honolulu one of the crew members tested positive for coronavirus and he and two other close contacts were removed from the flight.

According to the KHJ News, the DOH "apparently" recommended two of the flights be allowed into American Samoa to help with planning, but Gov Lolo Malatasi Moliga denied approval.

Moliga said the mission could not come through American Samoa because he could not in good conscience subject people to the deadly coronavirus.

The DOH was reportedly disappointed in the decision because the US mission to Antarctica was a medical mission, and was concerned about the fallout from denying the request.

In his denial of the mission, Lolo had written: "Please know that we fully understand and are very much sensitive to the importance and significance of this mission to the United States' continued presence in the Antarctic... American Samoa remains the only US jurisdiction which has not been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic and we have made great sacrifices to maintain and to continue our 'free coronavirus bubble'."

The US Airforce reportedly made the request for the stopover more than two months ago.