Govt in negotiation with Hawaiian Air for further flight dates
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — During the COVID-19 Task Force meeting on Monday this week, Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga urged members to continue looking and planning ahead despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent Delta variant which has cost the government more than $18 Million for repatriation and quarantine related expenses, according to a task force press release yesterday.
While the transition to commercial flights in September and the elimination of the pre-travel quarantine in Hawaii has reduced some of those costs; the governor remarked that even the current level of costs cannot be sustained indefinitely.
The governor discussed the need to address long standing issues such as healthcare workforce shortages and ensuring our students are prepared for virtual learning in the event of a community transmission. Further, he emphasized his decision to keep travel restrictions operating ‘as is’, due to the potential impact of a border closure on the territory’s health, economy, and social wellbeing.
Other topics discussed during the meeting were facilitated by Attorney General Fainuulelei Alailima-Utu who is the alternate GAR while Lt. Gov. Talauega Ale is away.
These topics included the approved flight schedule for the first quarter of the 2022 calendar year, which is in the process of being officially negotiated with Hawaiian Airlines, the vaccination and quarantine updates and other matters including challenges faced by key Task Force departments.
Dr Aifili Tufa presented the latest vaccination numbers reporting that globally there has been a 20% decrease in cases in the last week with 257,154 new cases and 4,148 new deaths.
The countries with the highest number of reported cases are the United Kingdom, Turkey and the Russian Federation. Within the Pacific Island region, 416 new cases and 11 new deaths have been reported since October 12th. The highest cases in the Pacific are being reported from New Caledonia with 231 new cases and 8 new deaths. In addition, Guam has 185 new cases with 3 new deaths.
In terms of testing locally, as of October 18th a total of 14,979 samples have been collected and only 9 positive cases returned. These 9 positive cases include the 3 imported cases in quarantine and isolation from the two September flights and 6 cases of crew on vessels at the seaport who never came on land.
Between December 20, 2020 - October 15, 2021, a total of 66,507 doses of vaccine have been administered. In terms of the eligible population, 93% have at least one dose, 87.7% are fully vaccinated, and 7% have no shots yet. In terms of the entire population, 72.8% have at least one dose, 68.7% are fully vaccinated, 5.1% have no shots yet, and 22.1% are ineligible.
Dr Tufa highlighted the case of Palau and how their high vaccination rates has allowed the island country to travel without pre-travel quarantine or quarantine upon arrival without any incidences of community transmission.
Some 100 travelers –– a majority of which comprise Star Kist guest workers –– are scheduled to arrive from Samoa on Wednesday October 20th and Friday October 22nd where they will be required to quarantine for 24 hours before discharge.
The Department of Health has also kicked off their 3rd Mass Drug Administration of the Lymphatic Filariasis pills this past week and will embark on a house to house campaign throughout the Territory beginning on the westside of the island to help prevent the transmission of filarial worm from mosquitoes to residents across the territory.
DOH requests the support of the community in its mass drug administration efforts for your own personal and family’s health and safety.