Out of 5 suspected coronavirus samples, 3 test negative so far
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — In the Health Department coronavirus briefing late Sunday afternoon and aired later that evening on KVZK-TV, Health director Motusa Tuileama Nua explained that American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga in the Pacific have no confirm cases of the deadly virus but American Samoa has “suspected” cases under “investigation”.
As of Saturday, lab samples had been collected for 5 suspected cases and the first one that was out for testing at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta came back negative early last week.
Two more samples were sent on last Thursday night’s Hawaiian Airlines to Honolulu for testing, which was done at the Hawaii state laboratory and the results came back negative, according to the health director, who noted that “this is good news for American Samoa.”
Two more samples are awaiting shipment for testing either at the Hawaii state lab or the CDC lab in Atlanta.
Motusa also provided follow-up status of travelers on Hawaiian Airlines flights on Mar. 16, Mar. 19 and Mar. 26th with no flight on Mar. 23rd. Total number of travelers for the three flights stands at 684 with 52 getting full or medical 14-day quarantine, while 632 are under home quarantine.
For last Thursday’s flight, there were 252 travelers, with 42 placed under full quarantine while 210 are undergoing at home quarantine. DoH also says that there were 241 travelers, who were evacuated from Samoa last week Monday and Tuesday after Samoa closed its borders.
Of that total number of travelers, 238 of them were placed under full quarantine, at designated DoH quarantine facilities, while 7 travelers — who arrived last week Monday — were home quarantined.
The 7 travelers includs three local residents who were Medicaid patients returning from New Zealand, along with 2 pilots and 2 engineers from Samoa Airways. (Samoa News notes that these airline officials are stationed here to operate flights between Tutuila and the Manu’a islands.)
Motusa said DoH currently has 4 quarantine facilities — down from the previous identified 7 centers — which included the possible use of Tafuna Elementary and Tafuna High School gymnasiums — that can “comfortably” accommodate 50 people, but can take up to 80.
Currently there are 105 quarantined at the four facilities — Leone Clinic with 8, Kanana Fou building with 36, Veteran Memorial Center at the Tafuna Industrial Park with 20 and a center at the Catholic Church compound in Fatuoaiga with 34.
Those who were previously housed at the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs building have either been identified by DoH physicians to be home quarantined or quarantined at DoH facilities.
Those currently in DoH quarantine facilities include last Thursday’s Hawaiian Airlines flight and those evacuated from Samoa early last week.
TAFUNA HIGH PTA OBJECTION
When Tafuna High School PTA president William E. Spitzenberg sent an opposition letter to the ASG’s COVID-19 Task Force over the use of the school’s gym, he asked the task force to reconsider its decision to use the gym as a quarantine facility, arguing among other things that:
• gym is not suited and does not meet the requirements of a COVID-19 Quarantine Facility
• facility is not secure as the security fence surrounding the campus have several sections with long lengths of missing fencing and damaged gates
• it will be a very uncomfortable experience for the quarantined individuals as the gymnasium is open to the elements with no fans, no walls and the open layout allows mosquitoes and other critters to roam freely.
“We recommend that the Task Force work with the Hotels and Motel owners on a special rate for this emergency and note that Federal help is on the way,” he wrote. “This will benefit both the government and the private sector while boosting our fragile economy during this difficult time. These facilities will help contain the virus much better than an open gymnasium.”