UPDATE: No confirmed COVID cases in Samoa
Apia, SAMOA — Samoa's National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) reports the 19 staff placed under controlled isolation a week ago since the 3 reported cases in American Samoa linked to the container ship – Fesco Askold, remain under 14 days quarantine as a health precaution.
They undertook COVID 19 tests on Sunday, 15th November, five days since they were isolated, and have all tested negative. Health Director Leausa Dr. Take Naseri and NEOC Chairman Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo confirmed during the Press Conference, on Monday this week.
“We understand the public’s concerns regarding the possible COVID-19 risk to Samoans following the Fesco Askold COIVD scare on 8th November 2020, which 3 of the crew members were reported to have been tested positive on arrival in American Samoa,” elaborated the two senior government officials in a statement issued today.
“Our assessments have revealed that all 19 personnel identified from the contact tracing when the incident came to light a week ago have not been exposed to COVID-19, which is evidence of strict compliance with control protocols at the wharf,” the statement continued.
The 19 personnel are from Ministry of Health and Samoa Ports Authority, including Stevedoring staff. “Contact tracing, monitoring and surveillance of persons connected to the officials continue.
“The travel advisory for American Samoa has been updated in due course as we continue to monitor the situation there.”
Re-opening flights and shipping ties with American Samoa is subject to approval by the American Samoa Government. Agafili revealed that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi had already requested his American Samoa counterpart for flights and inter-island ferry services to resume.
However the request was denied on the condition that prior approval is needed from the out-going American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga.
As of today, 2,976 Samoans have returned home since 22nd March 2020 on 15 flights approved by Cabinet.
The latest flight last Friday brought home 274 more Samoans repatriated from New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United Stated including 27 Samoan sailors who have completed employment contracts while stationed on the Mediterranean Shipping Fleet in various parts of Europe.
A number of passengers booked on Friday afternoon’s flight were denied boarding due to non-compliance with health requirements.
“There are no exemptions when it comes to full compliance with the Travel Advisory to protect the country from COVID19,” acknowledged NEOC Chairman Agafili during the press conference with Director General of Health, Leausa
“All the passengers are now undergoing the compulsory 14-Day Quarantine requirement and as of today, there are no incidents of anyone showing complications associated with COVID symptoms,” reassured Director General of Health Leausa adding that daily health checks are also compulsory during the quarantine period.
“Our strict Border Security mandate is so far proving effective in keeping the COVID19 at bay,” added Agafili.
To ensure that Samoa remains COVID-19 free, all personnel involved in managing repatriation flights have undergone refresher trainings of all procedures and protocols.
Preceding the arrival of the flight last Friday, 294 passengers who arrived in Smaoa on 30th October 2020 were all discharged from quarantine sites in good health upon expiry of their two weeks isolation. All were tested and the results came out negative.
CHARTERED FLIGHT LOS ANGELES
Government is preparing for the chartered flight from the United States scheduled for Friday 27th November, 2020. Heightened vigilance and compliance with entry requirements and plans for its management, as with all flights will continued to be enforced.
A wide body Air New Zealand Boeing will operate this flight from Los Angeles with a seating capacity of a little over 300 passengers.
Agafili told the Press that so far, over 400 individuals have registered to return to Samoa and wanted to return on this flight.
As with all flights, passenger applications have been carefully screened to assess their reasons for coming to Samoa. To date, only those who live in Samoa are authourized to return to Samoa on repatriation flights.
Travel advisories are available on (https://www.health.gov.ws/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Government-of-Samoa-Medical-Clearance-Form-COVID19-2020.pdf).
CHARTERED FLIGHT FROM FIJI
Negotiations are underway for a chartered flight from Fiji. Momentarily, only students who graduated and completed their studies will return home on the flight once it’s approved.
The flight is tentatively planned to take place in early December.
The management operations of the repatriation flights require coordination among multi-disciplinary teams from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministry of Police, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (DMO/NEOC), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Customs and Revenue, Samoa Airport Authority, Samoa Airways and Air New Zealand.
The Government of Samoa would like to convey once more to the public that all frontline teams working on repatriation flights and at the wharf continue to follow and implement strict infection, prevention and control measures to prevent COVID-19.
These procedures have been in place since the COVID campaign began in February and have guided the management of (15 flights, numerous weekly cargo flights and 346 incoming vessels).
Of the 346 incoming vessels, three (3) were not permitted to dock as they did not meet the requirements apropos Samoa’s Port Health regulations.
At this time, the National Emergency Operating Centre (NEOC) has not issued any guidance regarding the closure of schools and businesses etc.
Please check the below websites for accurate information and remember to continue to follow all COVID-19 prevention measures.