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No confirmed coronavirus cases identified in American Samoa

Health Department senior officials [l-r] Dr. Aifili John Tufa, Papali’i Marion Fitisemanu, Farah Utu, and Dr. Saipale Fuimaono
Testing continues but results lag behind as samples are sent off island

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Nine more samples from individuals in American Samoa who may be infected with coronavirus were transported last Thursday on the US Coast Guard C-130 aircraft heading to Honolulu for testing at the Hawaii state laboratory while another 8 samples await an outgoing flight to be sent off island for testing.

This is according to Health Department’s Epidemiologist Dr. Aifili John Tufa during the DoH presentation last Friday at a special meeting of the ASG’s COVID-19 Task Force meeting called by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and aired that evening on KVZK-TV.

Among the issues covered by Dr. Tufa is the status of COVID-19 cases for American Samoa, and he said that “right now, it’s still zero” when it comes to any confirmed cases, although he is aware that there has been “some talk going around of people being confirmed, but no we don’t have a confirmed case yet.”

He explained that DoH has collected samples from 21 individuals — 4 from LBJ Medical Center and 17 from the DoH Response team that visited travelers or those who were exposed to travelers.

So far, the first three-samples sent out came back negative, he said (referring to these three samples that came back negative about two weeks ago.)

He also said that 9 more samples were sent to the Hawai’i state laboratory onboard last Thursday’s Coast Guard aircraft, which arrived in the territory last week Wednesday with pallets of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies for American Samoa from the federal government.

“Since we’re really trying to identify if there is virus [in the territory], the DoH teams are tasked with going and finding the virus,” he said, adding that DoH currently has 8 samples “sitting in our freezer right now, waiting for a plane to take it out” for testing.

He explained that the current number of people DoH is investigating relating to the virus is 17 — the 9 samples sent last week to Honolulu and the 8 samples in the DoH freezer

“And among the 17, we’ve contact traced 44 individuals — and all of them have been home quarantined,” he said, and emphasized to the public the importance of “social distancing” as an important preventive measure to stop the spread of the virus.

Dr. Tufa also shared an update on the number of confirmed cases and death rate globally — at the time, as well as cases in the US.

A running tally by John Hopkins University and Medicine shows that as of yesterday morning (local time) the number of confirmed cases globally has reached more than 1.2 million — with more than 256,000 of them recovered. The fatality count reached 68,148 — Italy at the highest with 15,887 deaths.

For the US, total cases were at 325,185 with more than 16,000 of them recovered. However, total deaths were at 9,267 — with the highest number of fatalities of 2,256 deaths in New York City, New York.

(Samoa News will report in tomorrow’s edition on other DoH information and issues raised by the governor at the meeting.)