The Director General of Health Leausa Toleafoa Dr Take Naseri has confirmed that 16 out of 22 COVID-19 tests from suspected cases in Samoa have so far all returned negative.
In an interview with Government press Leausa also confirmed that the two remaining results from the 8 cases referred to in last Saturday’s coronavirus update, were included in that 16.
The Director General further clarified that as of 4pm Wednesday 25 March, Samoa now awaits the results of 6 suspected cases.
“Four were sent on yesterday’s flight out, but two were swabbed after that last flight had left.”
Dr Naseri says with international flights now closed, specimen from suspected cases will now need to be stored until the 500 test kits offered by China arrive into Samoa.
“Faataitaiga la e iai matou specimen lea sa fai anapo ae ua alu le vaa, ia ona aumai loa lea taofi ii, ma store lelei ii totonu o le lab..”
“There is hope that 500 kits will come from China, and the Government has approved the purchase of 4,000 kits from this company..at a price of $19 US dollars per test kit,” said Leausa.
The Director General further clarified that Samoa has been treating all individuals who had been overseas in the previous two weeks as suspected cases when they present with any of the COVID-19 symptoms.
“If they show symptoms such as the flu, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath, fever; and have been in New Zealand or Australia then we treat them as a suspected case and watch them closely for 14 days.”
Samoa is not taking any chances and have quarantined all paasengers from the last two flights from New Zealand and the special flight from Fiji.
“There are about 400 people all being quarantined; if anyone is symptomatic they’ll be taken to the Faleolo District Hospital, otherwise the majority with no symptoms are placed in quarantine.”
Passengers from last few flights into Samoa are being quarantined at the St Therese retreat in Leauvaa.
“Anyone who shows symptoms within the 14 days will be taken away from there,” said Leausa.
The Director General reiterared that the virus does remain on surfaces and clings onto clothing.
“We have to practice social distancing, and wash your hands often.”
“Aua nei lua valalata, aua e mafai ona piipii o oi ofu, pipii i luga o surface, o faitotoa; ma e taua ai lava le fafano o ou lima i taimi uma.”
Leausa says medical practitioners who visit the quarantine area practice reverse isolation with masks and gowns which are all placed into “healthcare waste”.
“E tele a tapenaga, e fai si maoae a tapenaga aua e fou le faamai lenei, o lea ua amata ona aliae ona auga ma o lea e maliliu ai tagata.”
The Director General of Health says Samoa does have a plan if a COVID-19 test comes back positive. He however referred generally but did not give specific details to protective measures for medical staff, plans for isolating patients and says district hospitals including Savaii would be equipped.
“That’s why the contact with the National Emergency Operations Centre is important, because there will be no time, but Ulu and his team would be on stand by to provide whatever was needed”.
Leausa says it would be the NEOC that deals with the public to respond to any issues that may arise.
“O le taua foi la lena ma le fesootaiga lea ma le National Emergency Operating Centre. O mea uma ia e manaomia vave i le taimi lenei, aua e leai se taimi e fai ai, ia na o na logo mai a ii i le vaega lea e taitaifono ai le Tofa ia Ulu, ina ona faavasega foi lea e latou se fesoasoani ia vave ona maua.”
“E vaai a latou i le faatinoga o le auanaga ma le tali atu i le atunuu pe a iai se mea e faaletonu”.
Dr Naseri said people should not jump into buses and come in to the hospital when symptomatic but instead use the promoted emergency numbers.
Asked if there was any other crucial information the public should we aware of, the Director General defended the Ministry of Health, saying that there were many criticisms received by the Ministry, but reminded the public that noone in the health Ministry sets out to cause any harm or sets out to cause the death of any patient.
“E talosaga foi le mamalu o le atunuu ia lava pea le onosai, ua tele a foi ina mamafa foi tuuaiga.. ae leai lava se isi o galue i gauta e alu e faoo se mafatiaga i se isi, pe faaoo se maliu i se gasegase”.
“O le tulaga lea ua iai le tapenaga, e tapena lava i le malosi ma le iloa ua foai mai e Le Atua e faatino ai, pe a tei ua.. O le malosi lea e ave i le taimi lenei, ia matuai malu a le tatou atunuu..e aumai le tou faatuatuaga.”