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No new COVID cases detected in territory for first time since February

Dept. Of Health logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — For the first time since the outbreak of the community spread of COVID-19 was first recorded in American Samoa on Feb. 28, the Health Department reports “zero” new positive cases of the deadly virus, according to the DoH Situational Report for the week of Oct. 24 to Oct. 30.

The report — presented to the COVID-19 Task Force meeting last week Tuesday — also shows the continued decline in the number of individuals tested for the virus, compared to the start of the outbreak, which was worrisome to the medical community and the government.

DoH reports that of the 26 individuals tested the week of Oct. 24 to Oct. 30 at DoH laboratory and LBJ Medical Center, there were no new positive cases. Therefore the total cumulative COVID-19 count stands at 8,257 — for two weeks now —  since the first community case was recorded in late February this year while the number of active cases remains at single-digits, at only two.

(Samoa News notes that based on previous DoH and LBJ reports as well as information from task force in past briefings — people are getting tested for COVID only if recommended by a physician and if the individual shows symptoms.)

The DoH report also shows that COVID-19 related deaths remain at 34, which has been the case for the past several weeks, since the first death relating to the deadly virus was recorded in March. And the cumulative count of COVID related deaths was also confirmed by the LBJ report to the task force.

LBJ also reports that COVID testing for entering into the facility remains suspended and testing is only done for symptomatic individuals — as directed by a physician. Additionally, masking outside and inside the hospital is “optional” and social distancing inside the hospital “will be monitored”.

The main issue of of the task force briefing was the continued discussions on the transition of the ASG online travel portal TALOFAPass system, which DoH recommended after deliberations of the medical community for the removal of pre-travel requirements and the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for entry into the territory.

The changes go into effect on Nov. 15, according to the governor’s address last week on KVZK-TV and a separate news release from the task force. (See Samoa News edition Nov. 04 for details.)

ASG officials told Samoa News over the weekend that the Administration agrees with DoH and the medical community’s stand to keep TALOFAPass in place to upload health forms and other information to “monitor” the health situation of incoming travelers as there are “emerging” new viruses reported from the U.S. and around the world.

The task force news release late last week quotes Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua saying that “despite the downsizing of the COVID-19 entry requirements on the TALOFAPass system, this (COVID-19) won't be the last communicable disease. We still have to be prepared for the future.”