2pm Saturday 22 January 2022, NEOC Press Conference, Motootua Apia Samoa. More than 260 frontliners who worked the Brisbane repatriation flight when it arrived into Samoa on Wednesday afternoon have so far returned negative covid-19 tests. This was confirmed by Samoa’s Director General of Health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri at an NEOC press conference on Saturday afternoon.
In addition to doctors and healthcare workers of the Ministry of Health, the group includes immigration and customs officers, quarantine officers, police officers, all ground staff of Faleolo International Airport and drivers.
“They were all brought in on Friday and have since been isolated,” said Leausa. “They will remain in quarantine as we continue to monitor them under set protocols, but all of them have returned initial negative tests”.
All frontliners are now in quarantine and isolated from their families for 21 days. If they continue to return negative tests over the next 14 days, their release will be considered, said Leausa who adds that those working in quarantine sites and hotels are also being closely monitored and tested.
Samoa’s Prime Minister Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa announced Samoa’s elevation into Alert Level 3 after Samoa reached 15 positive cases on Friday afternoon. The 48-hour nation-wide lockdown will start at 6pm Saturday afternoon until 6pm Monday 24th January 2022.
Ten of the 73 passengers who arrived into Faleolo on Wednesday’s flight returned positive swab test results at the airport. Out of the ten, Leausa clarified, there are three children – an 11 month old baby, a 5 year old and a 9 year old. Their mother did not test positive initially, however, further tests did confirm the mother as positive. That took Samoa’s initial cases to 11, said Leausa.
Further testing of close contacts who had been identified and isolated at Faleolo District Hospital, returned an additional four positives, taking Samoa’s total to 15 as of Friday afternoon. All other passengers returned negative tests on Day 2, confirmed Leausa.
The Director General of Health gave his assurance that none of the 15 positive cases are asymptomatic. “They are all well, no-one is showing any symptoms of fever, high blood pressure, or showing any symptoms of asthma or coughing, or any flu-like symptoms as is expected for this virus,” said Leausa.
“When we reached 15, the advice to enter Level 3 as a precautionary measure was given, until we can be certain that the risks of the virus entering the community have been minimised”.
The Director General of Health thanked the public for their support and cooperation as the Ministry and frontline staff continue their work to protect Samoa from the global pandemic.