Foreign travelers — except Samoa passport holders — now have to come through Hawaii
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — All foreign travelers, except for Samoa passport holders, wanting to enter American Samoa are now required to come through the Hawai’i route, under Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s Jan. 29th, “continued and expanded” State of Emergency declaration, issued last month due to the measles outbreak.
The Leone Health Center has been “designated as the quarantine facility for any suspected cases” of “coronavirus”, said Lolo, adding that the Health Department and LBJ Medical Center “will initiate a coordinated response to treat suspected cases.”
There are no suspected cases of coronavirus in American Samoa, but the governor and health officials are concerned with the cases identified in Australia.
Lolo’s amended declaration, released yesterday, is American Samoa's response to the global threat of the “Coronavirus” - 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) which has raised an alarm worldwide.
In the amended declaration, Lolo points out that American Samoa now has 15 laboratory confirmed cases of measles, which remains a threat to public health as the vaccination campaign continues to target eligible populations in the territory.
He then cited the new “Coronavirus” outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, where more than 5,000 cases are confirmed with more than 100 deaths. Globally, Australia and the United States are among the 18 countries with confirmed cases.
Lolo has authorized DoH to utilize all necessary powers under local law “to contain the measles outbreak and the threat of the 2019-nCoV.” He also ordered that all “OK Board” entry permit waivers and transit permits for foreign nationals “are suspended until further notice”. He said OK Board for US nationals will continue to be processed with an “added requirement of verifying countries traveled to in the previous 30 days”.
“All non-US passport holders must go through the Entry Permit process to travel to American Samoa,” the governor declared. He also outlined “restrictions” that are in place “immediately”.
For example, all foreign travelers, except for Samoa passport holders, seeking an entry permit must enter American Samoa through the Hawaii route. And the traveler must spend 14-days in Hawaii before entering the territory. Additionally, travelers that have been present in an affected country must remain in an unaffected country for at least 14 days prior to entering American Samoa. “Due to heightened risks, entry permits of travelers from affected areas may be denied even if all other requirements have been fulfilled,” Lolo clarified.
Furthermore, all entry permit applications will be subject to a 30-day review period; and approval of permits prior to the completion of the 30-days is “not guaranteed and in no circumstances will a permit be approved before 14-days have passed from the time of application.”
Entry permit applications must also include the following clearances: immunization records from DoH; health exam clearance from Samoa’s Ministry of Health for citizens of Samoa; LBJ Medical Center clearance; court clearance; and Homeland Security clearance for non-Samoan citizens.
The governor stressed that all travelers must provide information on the countries they visited in the 30 days prior to entry. In support of this requirement, permit applications are to include copies of the passport pages showing stamps at ports of entry and departure. “Any traveler found to falsify or omit information will be immediately removed from the territory,” Lolo warned, adding that Immigration is tasked with verifying such information.
• Samoa citizens must have a health exam administered and approved by the Minister of Health 14 days prior to entry into the territory;
• all children under 18 years old must show proof of vaccinations for all required shots in accordance with recommendations by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
• in accordance with the American Samoa Administrative Code, an immigration bond of $500 per person is required for all crewmen of vessels seeking entry into American Samoa.
Lolo directed DoH to coordinate screening — for both measles and 2019-nCoV — of all passengers upon arrival at each port of entry. These screenings will increase processing times at the airport and the governor asks the public to plan accordingly.
The Samoa government announced last week its new entry requirements in efforts to combat the “coronavirus”. One of the requirements is that the traveler must undergo a health exam 3 days prior to travel.
Lolo said DoH “is the only agency authorized to issue health exams” which are conducted at the Tafuna Community Health Center.
He reminds the public that the “short amnesty” program for undocumented immigrants will close for registration on Feb. 6th, adding that there will be “increased immigration enforcement efforts and all those who have not registered for the amnesty program will be subject to all applicable penalties including fines and deportation.”
Lolo said all other emergency policies currently in effect remain unchanged, until further notice.