The Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri confirms Samoa’s testing protocol prioritises those being released into the community after quarantine, with no need to test individuals who will make no contact with anyone.
“It is not a case of not having enough tests, it’s a case of using them when necessary, so we’re not going to start testing people who will have no contact with our people whatsoever”, says Leausa.
Samoa’s DG says he would not compromise the safety of health officials, and place Samoa at unnecessary risk, by sending our health care workers onto cargo vessels to test the crew.
“We don’t need to test people who are not entering the country. The Fesco Askold crew were isolated in a separate room on the ship while our people worked on servicing the containers on the docks,” he said.
Leausa confirms that the country’s current supply of test kits stands at 4,000 with the recent arrival of another WHO consignment, and the priority is to test all returning Samoan residents and those on repatriation flights, as well as our public servants in the front lines.
Samoa’s testing priority is given to testing all returning residents twice; first upon arrival and then again a day before they are released into the community to ensure they are COVID free.
All frontline staff such as workers from the MOH, Samoa Ports Authority and Immigration at the Airport follow regular testing protocols.
As for sailors, only seafarers who come to shore are tested prior to having any contact with local port staff.
Leausa says Samoa’s approach is the best option in his view, to ensure that all preventative measures for the virus to sneak into the country, are not compromised.
The Interim Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Center, Agafili Tomaimano Shem Leo says Samoa has repatriated the most citizens since COVID19 lockdown compared to our Pacific neighbours.
“The only pacific neighbor closest to Samoa is Tonga, and they have repatriated a little over a 100 people compared to close to 3,000 Samoans..”
Samoa has remained COVID-19 free despite the many repartriated citizens and cargo ships for imports continuing.
“Our strict Border Security mandate is so far proving effecting in keeping the COVID19 at bay,” added Agafili.
Samoa has three more repatriation flights scheduled before the end of the year.