Doctors, Nurses, Patients and Caregivers at Mootootua National Hospital Test Positive for Covid-19

Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) National Hospital at Motootua, 18 March 2022. Photo: Julius Netzler.

Friday 18 March 2022, Apia Samoa. Samoa’s national hospital has been compromised with doctors, nurses, patients and caregivers all returning positive tests for covid-19 throughout the day.

A source inside the hospital says so far, four doctors, two nurses, three patients and a caregiver have returned positive tests. “There are certain to be more in the coming days..”

“The positive patients are from various wards to the hospital, but the doctors are all from Outpatient..”

Samoa stumbled across its first community case of covid-19 on Thursday afternoon when a woman tested positive during a routine pre-departure testing for travel out of the country. The infected woman had visited the Tupua Tamasese Meaole (TTM) national hospital at Motootua on two separate occasions this past week. Noone, including the infected woman, would know she was carrying the coronavirus until Thursday afternoon.

Places of Interest

The extent of the community spread in Samoa has not yet been confirmed and a list of Places of Interest has not yet been issued by authorities, however, an official document outlining a short summary of the woman’s movements has been leaked and widely shared by the public through social media.

On Monday 14th March, the woman had visited the Emergency Department (ED) of Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital. According to the report, “Came to ED around 5pm with symptoms of vomiting and chills”.

She stays home on Tuesday, however, on Wednesday, she visits several locations in Apia, including the Fiji Airways office, CCK store, the market and the library before attending a church gathering in the evening.  The woman returns to the National Hospital on Thursday morning. This time, to receive a covid-19 test as a pre-requisite for departure from Samoa. She was intending to travel out of Samoa via a Fiji Airways flight scheduled for Friday 18th March.

“9am, arrived at PH building. Waited for 2 hrs for her PCR test.” states the report.

The report suggests the woman then left the hospital after being tested, and visited a number of locations before heading back to the hospital to get her test results.

“Caught Motootua bus to the market. From there she caught the NUS bus to NUS. Arrived at NUS. Bible sharing with about 15 students (next to the Chem lab).. Left NUS and went to McDonalds with a friend (spent an hour)..”

The woman discovered she was positive when she returned by bus to the National Hospital after 4pm on Thursday afternoon.

The leaked report has provided important information for the public. One mother said her daughter’s friends had attended the NUS Bible study session. “My daughter is a close contact of a close contact, so we have isolated ourselves at home…”

Similarly a father whose daughter had been at the Wednesday church gathering said their family have all been tested today, and returned negative. “Thank God our first tests all came back negative today, but they said we have to stay isolated for four days, and be tested again..”

One young man who had been at the Bible study session told Samoa Global News he was experiencing symptoms. He went to the hospital early this morning, and has since been detained.

In a special announcement on Thursday night Samoa’s Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa confirmed the nation would shift to Alert Level 2 for 24 hours before elevating to Alert Level 3 or Code Red from Friday night (12am Saturday) for four days until midnight on Tuesday.

Samoa has managed to remain covid-19 free for the past two and a half years, even with monthly repatriations flights coming into the country.  Samoa is almost 69% double vaxxed for all of population including children, and over 90% have received first doses. For eligible adults, the percentage of double vaxxed is at 89.7% while first doses are at 98.9%. Samoa’s booster shots have also been rolled out, pausing only to allow for the rollout of the children’s vaccinations over the last two weeks.

God Bless Samoa.

Julius Netzler