Quarantine Escapee – Statement from Ministry of Health Director General

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“This is a serious matter that is being treated with urgency as the flight is categorized as a high-risk given the current situation in New Zealand with the spread of the Delta Variant.”
Press Release; MINISTRY OF HEALTH 20th October 2021.
We would like to assure the public that there are no positive COVID-19 cases in Samoa at this time. Please check the Ministry of Health’s website for updates or call the COVID-19 Hotline 800-6440 for clarifications or concerns you may have.
We would like to inform the public, however, that early this morning an RSE worker who returned from New Zealand on flight NZ990, Thursday 14th October 2021 left the quarantine facility where he was staying. The young man, Mr. Ponifasio, is in his early twenties, is fully vaccinated and tested negative on both COVID-19 tests conducted on arrival and again on Monday 18th October 2021.
He was last seen in quarantine at midnight 19th October and was discovered missing around 6:00 a.m. today 20th October 2021. He left the quarantine facility to go to the Western Union branch in Apia.
This is a serious matter that is being treated with urgency as the flight is categorized as a high-risk given the current situation in New Zealand with the spread of the Delta Variant.
The Western Union branch was closed and fumigated. Everyone who was at the Western Union office at the Development Bank Building between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 9:00a.m. was contacted and have now started two weeks’ quarantine at a dedicated Ministry of Health quarantine site. Mr. Ponifasio has re-entered quarantine and contact tracing and investigations are continuing. The Ministry of Health is also investigating this security breach and will tighten security arrangements at all quarantine sites.
We are also seeking the public assistance and advise that anyone who came into contact with Mr. Ponifasio between 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. today Wednesday 20th October 2021 to contact the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Hotline 800-6440.
At this time the public is advised to be cautious and implement all prevention measures such as keeping at least two- metres distance, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, coughing and sneezing into the bend of your elbow and cleaning and sanitizing your hands regularly.
There is no closure notice for schools and businesses at this time. Updates will be provided regularly on this situation.
Ma le fa’aaloalo lava,
Leausa T Dr. Take Naseri
DIRECTOR GENERAL OF HEALTH