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Samoa News is reporting on New Zealand’s current battle against the coronavirus, in light of the first repatriation flight due in from the U.S to the Territory on Feb 1st.

First, let me state that I am not against the repatriation flights, — after all I have been unable to return home since last year March, after my medical appointments, but by then Samoa and American Samoa had each closed their borders. After, thinking of my situation and talking it over with my family, we decided to wait it out, hopefully returning by June 2021, safely — for everyone.

Each Repat person I know has their own situation to handle with the decision to return home a well thought out process, which includes financial woes. The great thing is that the local government is picking up the tab for quarantine — meals and accommodations in Hawaii and Am. Samoa, as well as the cost of the flight. All else is the person’s responsibility. It’s difficult — and like all — I miss my family!

However the Territory must go into this effort with its eyes open and what will be required to keep the virus out of our home-island, and if it does come to our shores that we will have the needed knowledge and skills to control its spread and kill it.

Testing, contact tracing and quarantine efforts are forefront in the war against the coronavirus — with masks, washing hands, social distancing and the vaccine being the keystone to prevention.

Of note in particular is that the woman tested positive in NZ — after leaving managed isolation (quarantine) in Auckland.

As of Tuesday, NZ COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has revealed that 14 close contacts of the Northland community case have returned negative test results. Hipkins said three more test results are pending.

Yesterday he announced two close contacts, her husband and hair dresser, were negative. In his tweet, Hipkins described the news as "encouraging".

Samoan author Lani Wendt Young tweeted on Monday that her daughter, who recently travelled to New Zealand from Samoa for University, was quarantined in the same facility as the Northland woman and was released from quarantine only to receive the message a day later (after she had visited with elderly relatives) that she should self quarantine. Lani said the daughter is understandably very distraught over the incident. Fortunately she tested negative yesterday.

"It hits hard — when your child is on the phone in tears, worrying for loved ones she may have unknowingly put at risk. Again I ask — why are returning NZers from a COVID free country like Samoa, being placed in MIQ with people from high risk countries like the UK etc?" Lani asked.

Key facts:

•                ¥          A Northland woman tested positive for COVID-19 after leaving managed isolation in Auckland.

•                ¥          Testing showed the 56-year-old has the South African variant and most likely contracted it at the Pullman Hotel isolation facility.

•                ¥          The Australian government on Monday suspended quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders arriving in Australia for three days.

•                ¥          The Ministry of Health has listed 31 locations of interest relating to the woman's movements.

•                ¥          Of the woman's 17 close contacts, 14 have so far tested negative.

•                ¥          Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there was no reason at this stage to restrict travel or put Northland into lockdown.

•                ¥          The Ministry says people who were at the locations of interest at the times stated need to; isolate away from others, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 for advice on when and where to get tested, and remain isolated until they have a negative test result.

•                ¥          Testing locations: Northland and Auckland.

In the meantime, RNZ reported on Tuesday that “some people in Northland had to wait more than seven hours to get COVID-19 tests today, describing the process as “chaos”.

“Thousands of people turned up to testing stations across the region, with additional stations in Helensville and Mangawhai to keep up with demand.”

It has prompted calls for better communication and resourcing for the north, where tensions are running high, with one man, who waited hours for his test, describing the situation as “…they’ve been caught with their pants down haven’t they.”