Do Not Panic – Health Director Confident in Samoa’s Process as Crewmen Test Positive in Pago

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The Samoa Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri says Samoa’s Health Port Protocols are air tight, and there is no need to panic amidst reports that 3 crew members aboard a container ship that docked in Apia over the weekend have been tested positive for COVID-19 in Pago.

The Fesco Askold left California around October 25th. It was in Tahiti on the 4th of November for one day, then Apia on the 8th of November before docking in American Samoa yesterday, 9th November.

Responding to questions from Samoa Global News this morning the Director General says he did receive a phone call late last night from American Samoa Director of Health, Dr Aifili John Tufa to confirm that test results on three Fesco Askold crew members had returned positive.

“He called to inform me that they had tested three crewmen positive..”

“I asked if the crew actually come off the ship and he said no”.

Leausa explains that Samoa has developed and followed well coordinated processes of Health Port Protocols, strictly followed by authorities at the Apia Port during shipment offloads.

“The area is sealed off and closely monitored by Police, Quarantine, and Health officials and there is no contact with any crew member…”

“Our protocols require that crew members are isolated on the vessel, and noone comes off or makes contact with anyone…”

Leausa says the risk for Samoa is mitigated by this stringent process where nobody gets off the ship, and the few officials involved are in full PPE – Personal Protection Equipment.

“The crew on board are even required to quarantine in an area of the ship and there is only one crew member who stands on board the vessel from a distance to oversee the offload process”.

“The containers are all offloaded by crane onto a secluded area of the wharf, fenced off with only 2 or 3 stevedoring crew to operate the cranes..”

Leausa says there are at most, five people involved who are fully equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and even though they made no contact, they will now be isolated and tested.

“Even when they remove the their PPE, they take them off and leave them there in a special area, treated as contaminated… the process is very tight”, says Leausa.

Leausa says the containers are then heavily fumigated whilst still in the secured area.

“I am confident with our process, but for extra precaution, those involved have been quarantined and will be tested.”

Leausa says Samoa’s protocol focuses on testing before individuals are released into the public, but do not board to test crew members on board cargo ships.

“After 14 days quarantine, we test all our incoming repartriated citizens before they are released.. that is our focus.”

“We do not risk health care workers by going onto vessels to test their crew”, added Leausa.


Sina Retzlaff