Suspected positive COVID-19 swab samples heading to NZ

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SAMOA GOVERNMENT – 19 November 2020


Government is planning to send to New Zealand this weekend on a cargo flight arriving Friday and returning the same day swab samples from the Samoan Sailor, the first suspected COVID19 positive case in the country.

While awaiting the results from New Zealand, the sailor placed under strict isolation at the National Hospital since late Wednesday evening will be tested again this Saturday.

The two tests should confirm without a doubt whether the seafarer who returned last Friday from Italy where he had worked is the first official COVID19 case recorded in Samoa, Director General of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri told a press conference late this evening.

He reassured the media that all the precautionary and preventative protocols prescribed by the Government’s COVID preparedness and response plan were executed to the letter.

For instance, prior to departing Europe for Samoa via Auckland, documentation provided confirmed that he was tested negative along with a medical report which also confirmed that he had no COVID symptoms before leaving Europe.

And when the flight arrived from Auckland Friday afternoon, all of the 274 Samoans including the sailor were tested at the Airport without incident.

The tests is a new precautionary procedure executed because some of returning Samoans living in countries ranked as COVID19 high risks. (For example, the Samoan seafarers returning home from Europe.)

However, five days while still in quarantine as mandated by the 14 day period before going home, the seafarer was diagnosed and tested positive Wednesday night but a follow up test to reconfirm his positive results less than 8 hours later Thursday morning came back negative.

“We have also made contacts with Italian officials for a background and profile check which includes his medical history while working in Italy,” added Leausa.

Leausa says that they have reviewed the local swab test procedures in case they may have missed or overlooked any critical detail and added that that the tests followed procedure minimizing any potential errors.

He added that health front line workers monitoring the sailor and his roommate from their Quarantine Accommodations are also quarantine in the Hospital compound at a separate building to ensure their safety and remove any contacts with family and the public while awaiting the test results.

At the Press Conference, NEOC’s Interim Chairman and Chief Executive Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo says that it is paramount for Government to take all the necessary actions to maintain Samoa’s safety from the virus.

“The tests reflects and reaffirms the Cabinets decree to do everything possible to protect the country,” says Agafili who is also Secretary to Cabinet.

To this effect, Cabinet has extended the SOE to 22nd of December and awaits the test results before making any amendments to the current SOE law.

“Schools will continue as usual but with the same token, we are urging parents, guardians and teachers to follow strict precautionary measures to protect our children at all costs,” advised Agafili reiterating an appeal by the Prime Minister for the country to remain calm and not to lose faith in the power of prayers.

We will keep you posted on latest developments.


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