Task Force meeting covers COVID test results and protocol for booster shots
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 4th imported positive COVID-19 case on the Oct. 14th flight from Honolulu along with four “historical cases” on that same flight and the availability of booster shots were some of the subjects covered during last Thursday’s Health Department news conference.
Also mentioned were plans to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for ASG employees — with no date for implementation announced as yet.
Health officials identified the fourth positive case following tests carried out on the 278 passengers on the Oct. 14th flight. The three previous positive cases were travelers on the Sept. 13th and Sept. 27th flights. All positive cases are returning residents, who are fully vaccinated.
OCT. 14TH FLIGHT
Because of the large number of travelers, passengers were quarantined upon arrival at the three sites: Tradewinds Hotel, Sadie’s by the Sea and Fatuoaiga.
During the news conference — which was streamed-live on the KVZK-TV Facebook page — DoH Clinical acting director Elizabeth Lauvao explained that 199 passengers at Tradewinds Hotel were tested, with three travelers testing positive but these are “historical cases”, in that they were previously infected — while the rest of the travelers tested negative.
For the 48 travelers who are quarantined at Sadie’s by the Sea, all tests came back negative. At Fatuoaiga, where 31 travelers are quarantined, 29 came back negative, one-traveler — a “historical case” positive and one new imported case, tested a “true positive”.
Dr. Lauvao said this 4th positive case is considered a “recent infection” and the individual was placed in 14-days isolation at the DoH Alternative Care Facility 2 building in Tafuna — starting the day after the positive result came back. She said the “true positive” and “historical cases” are all fully vaccinated and none of them showing any symptoms for COVID-19. According to the doctor, they are all doing well and being monitored by health officials.
The second test for the quarantined travelers was administered last Thursday morning and families of those in quarantine told Samoa News over the weekend that DoH held a Zoom session on Friday morning announcing that all tests came back negative.
The third round of tests for quarantined passengers is scheduled towards the end of this week.
During the news conference, Dr. Lauvao said all bus drivers from Public Works Department who worked the Oct. 14th flight transporting passengers were placed in quarantine and testing was done on Oct. 18th with all negative. They have since been released home for self-monitoring and reporting to DoH Command Post any changes.
DOH Pharmacist Dr. Francine Amoa, who chairs the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, announced that at the time of the news conference the territory’s vaccination rate had reached 68.9%, but “we need to be at 80% or higher in order to achieve herd immunity.”
“So just as a reminder, the 80% or higher basically means that there will be less transmission of the virus in the community and better protection for those who are not eligible for the vaccine,” she explained.
And she encourages those not vaccinated to do so, as soon as possible. Also those who haven’t received their second shot should also do so as soon as possible for full protection.
COVID-19 vaccinations this week will take place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the DYWA facility in Tafuna and the A.P. Lutali Executive Office Building in Utulei — as the DYWA facility in Pago Pago is no longer a vaccination site.
Dr. Amoa also said that there are plans to mandate the vaccine for ASG employees. “So this is a good time for you to come in and get the vaccine, if you have not done so,” she said.
Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga during a cabinet meeting last month proposed plans to mandate vaccinations for the ASG workforce with details to be released at a later time.
Dr. Amoa said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Booster doses for Maderna and Johnson vaccine recipients and DoH received that information last week Wednesday.
“We will put out more details on where you can go get a booster dose. There is a minimum requirement that you have to have received your second dose six-months prior to the booster dose,” she explained. “Those eligible are individuals 65 years and older, residents of long-term care facilities and those with [underlying] medical conditions.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and FDA issued separate national media statements about the approval.