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Samoa raises alert level after positive COVID-19 test for returning sailor

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Apia, SAMOA — Samoa raised its alert level of COVID-19 on Thursday after finding a patient suspected to be potentially infected with the virus.

According to the Samoa Observer, Samoa's director general of health Leausa Take Naseri confirmed at a press conference on Thursday that the 23-year-old sailor arrived in Samoa via Italy. He is one of the 217 sailors who landed in the country on a repatriation flight on Friday.

Samoan authorities are currently analyzing the patient's medical symptoms and test results after the sailor returned a positive test on Wednesday, he said, adding that it was not apparent that the patient had an active case of the virus, instead of a historical or non-contagious variant as had been previously detected on two passengers on repatriation flights last year.

The sailor is now in isolation in the hospital after his test came back positive on Wednesday morning.

The health chief said the sailor might have been in contact with someone who was infected with the virus while he was still overseas.

Meanwhile, the Interim Chair of Samoa's National Emergency Operation Center Agafili Shem Leo also announced that the nation is on Alert Level 1 for COVID-19.

The level is raised when Samoa has less than six cases in managed isolation, which is a low-risk situation for the island nation.

The state of emergency restrictions remain in force in Samoa and people are encouraged to keep their hands clean and wear masks in public places.