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Gov. orders immediate suspension of all air & ocean passenger services

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Includes weekly sail of the MV Lady Naomi

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With Samoa’s suspected COVID-19 case, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has taken “decisive actions to ensure that we continue to keep American Samoa coronavirus free.”

Lolo ordered the immediate suspension of all flights to and from Samoa along with the weekly sail of the MV Lady Naomi — that usually arrives and departs Thursdays.

“This order will remain in effect until further notice,” the governor said in a news release late Wednesday morning, a few hours after Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi announced in Apia the country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case in a nationally televised address and streamed live online.

Samoa News notes that prior to this new order by the governor, all air and ocean passenger services were suspended, except for the weekly Lady Naomi sail. Flights had operated based on emergency needs, and approved by the governor.

By late afternoon Thursday in Samoa, the Samoa Shipping Corporation Ltd., issued a notice regarding the cancellation of the MV Lady Naomi sail to and from Pago Pago. It didn’t give any reason for the cancellation.

A few hours after Tuilaepa’s televised address, Samoa government issued a news release saying that the third round of tests on the Samoan sailor who tested positive for COVID-19 the night before came back with a negative result. It says that the latest test was conducted Thursday — in Samoa around 6a.m — prior to Tuilaepa’s announcement. The press statement also said that the sailor was placed in isolation. (See yesterday’s Samoa News for details of the press statement and elsewhere in today’s edition on the latest update on the suspected case in Samoa.)

In American Samoa, the governor — in a news release from his office — instructed Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua and LBJ Medical Center chief executive officer, Faumuina J. Faumuina Jr. to connect with their counterparts in Samoa “to forge appropriate collaboration to curtail the spread of this virus” to the territory.

The governor also directed, Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele and the Health director to revisit protective protocols at the seaport to improve their efficacy preempting the accidental importation into the territory of the coronavirus by fishing and cargo vessels.

“We wish the Prime Minister and the people of Samoa well and we pray that the spread of this deadly virus is speedily contained and eradicated,” Lolo said.

The governor calls on local residents to “remain calm and untroubled as we have taken all precautions to safeguard and protect the lives of our people and to keep our home free from the coronavirus.”

While the Tuilaepa was well into his national televised addressed in Apia, the governor had started his cabinet meeting at the Gov. Rex H. Lee Auditorium.

An hour into the cabinet meeting, the governor announced that information from Apia indicates a confirmed COVID-19 case. And he requested certain cabinet members to leave the meeting and join him at the Governor’s Office, for discussion on the situation in Samoa.