The most recent State of Emergency (SOE) Orders gives a home quarantine option for repatriated residents, which the Director General of Health says is granted under a strict set of prescribed conditions that is closely monitored round the clock by the Ministry’s specially assigned health care workers.
The SOE orders reaffirm the requirement for passengers to be isolated in quarantine upon arrival into Samoa for 14 days; giving two options for quarantine:
Option A, “at the places and conditions to be determined by Cabinet which may include costs to be bourne by the passenger (either partly or fully) whilst in isolation”;
or Option B, “at the passenger(s) home as approved by the Director General of Heath upon prescribed conditions determined by him or her for approval for self-isolation quarantine”.
Just under 140 passengers arrived into Faleolo International Airport on Friday afternoon, with several dissappointed travellers turned away at Auckland airport for failing to adhere to strict requirements of Samoa’s Ministry of Health – to present a negative COVID-19 test and a Medical Clearance certificate before being allowed to board.
It was all hands on deck at Faleolo International Airport on Friday with a fully fledged passenger screening operation led by the Ministry of Health. Close to 30 teams of Health Care Workers whisked passengers away in groups of five per van, to their approved quarantine sites for 14 days.
Responding to questions from Samoa Global News, Director General of Health Leausa Dr Take Naseri said the prescribed conditions for home quarantine are stringently applied by the Ministry of Health whose priority will always be to safeguard Samoa from COVID-19.
Leausa says the home quarantine option has been granted based on requests by those with special needs, children with disabilities, diplomatic corp and those who live alone in a secured compound with no other family members in the same home.
“We do not grant this option lightly. There are prescribed conditions that must be met and there is a complete pre-inspection of the residential area carried out by the Ministry beforehand.” explains Dr. Naseri.
Home quarantine sites must be within a 5-mile radius of Motootua National Hospital, neighbors’ homes must be a certain distance away, security and police are placed at front gates, and strict non-contact with anyone is to be adhered to.
“Their homes had to be pre-stocked with food supplies by a family member and any top-up supplies would be left with security at the gate, to be checked and taken in;
“It is not self-isolation – it is home quarantine under the same rules and conditions applied to those in hotels”, explains Leausa.
“We pre-inspect the home to give full clearance after checking for conditions such as its security and fencing, distance of neighbors, ensure no-one else other than the repatriated passengers live there..;
“The Ministry is not taking any chances in the monitoring of all repatriated passengers, and the rules applied to home quarantine are exactly the same as those in hotels, with daily rounds of health checks carried out by Ministry staff”, said Leausa.
Leausa added that the safety of Samoa is the highest priority of the Ministry of Health, and they are taking no chances with the precautions in place, despite the fact that New Zealand have no more COVID-19 patients in hospitals, and have not recorded any new cases in 8 consecutive days.
“With New Zealand’s situation now well under control, we feel the chances of our returning citizens being infected while in NZ is minimal, however, the Ministry will be treating their quarantine with the highest level of caution and taking all steps to ensure Samoa remains safe.”
The Director General of Health calls for Samoa’s support during this time of uncertainty adding that Health Care Workers are putting in round-the-clock dedication to the operation of repatriating Samoa citizens stranded abroad, most of them desperate to return home.
Passengers who have been granted the option of home quarantine include the New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa HE Dr Trevor Matheson, ANZ Bank Manager Bernie Poort, former diplomat and Chair of Samoa Airways Feesago George Fepuleai and the late Hon Joachim Keil’s wife Celine who travelled home with their much-loved and popular son with down symdrome, Nathan Keil.