DoH reports on repatriation flights, cargo entries and fishing vessels
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa has completed the third and final phase of repatriation flights returning home local residents stranded in Samoa since borders were closed with Samoa in March this year.
Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua provided the information during Sunday’s government COVID-19 task force meeting aired that evening on KVZK-TV, saying that the repatriation flights for phase three operated over a two-day period.
On June 30 it brought in a total of 19 passengers and took back 16 citizens of Samoa — with the last flights on July 2nd — bringing in 20 local residents and returning to Apia with 11 nationals of Samoa.
The repatriation flights, operated by both Samoa Airways and Talofa Airways, were carried out in three phases with the first one three weeks ago.
Motusa says that one of the challenges during this operation was trying to verify the actual number of local residents to be returned on these flights.
He reiterated other challenges faced by DoH as shared in the previous task force meeting — staff shortage and “burnout” as well as unconfirmed medical conditions and special needs of repatriated travelers.
He said the task now is verifying with the Attorney General’s Office, which gives the OK board for all passengers from Apia, if there are any more local residents still in Samoa that need to be returned.
Data shared by DoH during its presentation shows that 158 local residents were repatriated from Samoa and as of July 3rd, a total of 65 have completed the required 14-day quarantine.
Also, as of July 3rd, a total of 41 travelers were quarantined at the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs building in Pago Pago; 50 at Sadie’s by the Sea hotel and two are home quarantined.
According to DoH, medical staff is provided 24-hours a day — working 12 hour shifts for the quarantine sites and two separate teams assigned to the home quarantine. As shared during previous task force meetings, DoH physicians make the determination based on a set criteria on who is home quarantined.
Motusa also gave a briefing on the number of flights, which arrived at the Pago Pago International Airport, and these are specific flights — cargo, military flights. He said that two funerals, which traveled by themselves as required by the ASG were on board a cargo fight last week.
Information shown in the DoH presentation states that both deaths were due to cancer. (As previously stated in past meetings, human remains require approval from the governor’s office before arrival on island.)
Meanwhile, he said there is a need to carry out a second COVID-19 drill to test the readiness of the local health care system — one is currently scheduled for July 24th.
Motusa also provided a briefing on incoming vessels last week, which included container cargo and fishing vessels as well as the one-weekly trip by Samoa government owned MV Fotu-o-Samoa that brought in cargo only.
Crew on all vessels are not allowed to disembark, in accordance with the governor’s current emergency declaration.