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Infections slow to a crawl with no new COVID related deaths reported

Covid-19 Task Force members
Task Force looks at logistics for resuming Lady Naomi passenger service

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Health Department’s weekly COVID-19 Situational Report for June 6 to June 12 shows that out of the 3,106 individuals tested, only 73 new confirmed COVID cases were reported from LBJ Medical Center and DoH clinics, with no new fatalities relating to the deadly virus.

The report presented to Tuesday’s COVID-19 Task Force weekly meeting shows that the total cumulative positive count now stands at 6,281 since the first case of the community spread was recorded on Feb. 21.

Additionally, the COVID related death count remains at 31, which has been the count for more than two weeks now. Furthermore, there are 107 active cases —including 10 at Ta’u village in Manu’a, which has a total cumulative count of 80 positives since the first community spread case was recorded in the island group in late April. 

There is no inter-island travel “unless authorized by officials” within Manu’a, according to the report, which shows that Olosega island remains COVID free.

The DoH report provided an update on last week Thursday’s Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu, with 238 passengers — 5 tested positive upon arrival. As with the usual protocol, those who tested positive were taken to the DoH supervised facility for isolation.

Tonight is the next Hawaiian Airlines weekly flight from Honolulu and as of early this week some 200-plus travelers have already registered on the ASG’s TalofaPass websystem for travel to Pago Pago, but the actually count of passengers on the flight was not available at press time.

Effective this week, pre-travel COVID-19 testing is no longer required prior to departure from the U.S and Samoa. However, COVID testing is required upon arrival in Pago Pago. And that was among the subject matters covered in the COVID-19 Task Force meeting on Tuesday, according to ASG officials who participated in the meeting.

The officials also say that Hawaiian Airlines local station manager Tuli Fruean — who is a member of the task force — requested, on behalf of the airline, a list of passengers who have been cleared via the TalofaPass system and confirmed on a flight 48-hours prior to departure, in order to eliminate any confusion for travelers. Fruean also asked if the Hawaiian Airlines flight crew is exempted from any 72-hour COVID-19 test prior to departure for the territory.

 Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Ale — who is the Governor’s Authorized Representative (GAR) — responded that the flight crew is exempted and that the ASG team is working on the requested 48-hour list to be provided to Hawaiian Airlines, including with tonight’s flight. And DoH supports the 48-hour list, which will help the airline crosscheck their manifest and the TalofaPass list.

Also discussed, according to the ASG officials, is the need to monitor the situation with travelers from Samoa that test positive upon arrival, with Talauega, who is also the task force chair, suggesting that if the numbers of positive cases increase, the task force will have to review incoming flights from Samoa.

It was also raised during the meeting the status of allowing passengers traveling on the weekly sail of the MV Lady Naomi, which at this point in time is only operating for cargo, and currently only air service is available for travelers.

It was suggested to limit the number of passengers between 60 to 80 on each sail to ensure that there is adequate quarantine facilities in the event of positive cases tested upon arrival in the territory.

No information was available at press time on when the task force will allow passengers on the MV Lady Naomi.