Clinical Director of the National Kidney Foundation Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea has expressed disappointment in those creating and forwarding misleading information about the coronavirus.
In a matter of a few hours this evening, a message claiming that Samoa had 2 confirmed cases of the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV had spread across Samoa Facebook users through private message.
The message goes on to say that two students had arrived from China infected with the coronavirus and were being quarantined at the Faleolo District Hospital.
Responding to Samoa Global News, Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea allayed the public’s fears and condemned those involved.
“This is absoltuely irresponsible. There is no such thing at present!”, said Leituala.
“There are only those isolated, but that’s Samoa’s stance as a precautionary measure for whoever comes from an infected area, they must be quarantined for 14 days”, he added.
The fake news and message above caused such a panic that the Government Press Secretariat issued a statement at 10.30pm Monday evening to reassure the public.
“To set the record straight, to date there are NO CONFIRMED CASES OF CORONAVIRUS IN SAMOA contrary to fake claims posted on social media via Facebook”.
“Furthermore, the allegations that two Samoan students are quarantined and are being monitored at the Faleolo Hospital are absolutely untrue.
What is true at this point, is that 2 Samoan sailors working abroad and returning home over the weekend are quarantined at the Faleolo Health Center as a precautionary measure but it does not mean that they are confirmed to have contracted Coronavirus”.
The Press Secretariat confirmed that the sailors had spent 2 days in China on transit to Samoa and in following Samoa’s recently issued Travel Directive, all travelers originating FROM or TRANSIT through Mainland China, must spend at least 14 days’ self-quarantine at country of last port that is free of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
“Samoans returning home are not exempted from the 14-day self-quarantine mandate,” reads the press release.
“And the same also applies to all travelers from countries with confirmed cases of the virus regardless of nationality”.
Furthermore Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) say the Embassy in China continues to closely monitor the wellbeing of all Samoan students and confirm that contingency plans are in place should they need to be effected.
“All students are well and advised to observe precautionary measures such as using face masks, keeping away from crowded areas, and restricting movements out of their university compounds to necessity”.
“MFAT continues to liaise with the China Scholarship Council regarding contingency plans for the students.”
“We are closely monitoring the situation with all students; we are in contact and and keeping open communication lines with all parents”.