Samoa Considers Temporary Travel Ban from Australia as Omnicron Situation is Monitored

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21 January 2022, Apia Samoa. The Government of Samoa has indicated that a travel ban may be imposed on all flights from Australia following the arrival of 10 covid-positive passengers on a repatriation flight from Brisbane on Wednesday 19th January.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa addressed the Parliament of Samoa on Thursday evening after an emergency meeting of Cabinet to consider an update report from the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).

The Prime Minister told Parliament that a temporary ban to flights from Australia may be imposed “at this time” as Australia’s efforts to control the spread of the omnicron variant is monitored.

“E ona iai foi se fuafuaga e faapafala le toe malaga mai o tagata mai Ausetalia mo lenei taimi se’i mataitu le tulaga i le pepesi ai o le Virasi o le Omikoroni o lea atunuu”.

Prime Minister Fiame assured the Legislative Assemby and the nation that there was no need to panic. “Our government and frontliners continue the work that they have been doing over the past two years, to protect Samoa and its borders”.

The ten passengers who returned positive tests at Faleolo International airport upon arrival included 4 children aged between 11 months and 5 years. They are being monitored at a special isolation ward at Motootua National Hospital, while nine of their close contacts are under quarantine at Faleolo District Hospital.

The Director General of Health Leausa Dr Take Naseri confirmed to media that there were 267 passengers on the original flight list received by Samoa’s Department of Health.  Due to Samoa’s strict pre-departure protocols, only 73 were able to board the Brisbane flight.

Situation in Australia

A Department of Health report states that Australia recorded 44,622 new cases in the past 24 hours, with over 513,000 active cases – over 5,000 of those in hospitals across the country.

Australia’s National Cabinet met on Thursday 20th January 2022 to discuss their response to COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, focusing on approaches to test, trace isolate and quarantine including the use of rapid antigen tests (RATs), the vaccine rollout and booster programme, a Government media release states.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, provided an update on the spread of the Omicron variant, confirming that “Omicron shows greater infectivity than the Delta variant, but with much less severity in terms of hospitalisations, ICU and ventilated patients”.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been 1,514,560 confirmed cases in Australia and, sadly, 2,841 people have died. Globally there have been over 333.4 million cases and sadly over 5.5 million deaths, with 3,281,678 new cases and 9,162 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

Australia’s Vaccination Roll Out

To date 47 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Australia, including 332,808 doses in the previous 24 hours. In the previous 7 days, more than 1.9 million vaccines have been administered in Australia.

More than 95.2 per cent of the Australian population aged 16 years and over have now had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including over 99 per cent of over 50 year olds and more than 99 per cent of over 70 year olds.

More than 92.7 per cent of Australians aged 16 years and over are now fully vaccinated including more than 97.5 per cent of over 50 year olds and more than 99 per cent of Australians over 70 years of age.

Over 5.7 million booster doses have been administered to over 28 per cent of Australians. More than 53 per cent of Australians aged 70 years of age and over have had a booster in the last 10 weeks since the booster program commenced. More than 21 per cent of 5-11 year olds have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the first 11 days of the children vaccination program.