Tuilaepa Advises Proceed with Caution – Other Variants of Omicron are Yet to reach Samoa

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29 April 2022, Apia Samoa.  Other variants of the Omicron strain of coronavirus are yet to reach Samoa, and the government should proceed with caution with the notion of “living with the virus”.

This was the advice (tuualalo) given by Samoa’s former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition, Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who said Samoa should not be complacent because other variants will cause “waves” of infections in the community.

“We have seen how the virus has affected overseas countries,” said Tuilaepa, “After one wave, then a second wave, and even third waves.. and there are thousands of thousands of people dying from the pandemic.”

Tuilaepa said he was concerned that Samoa is only facing it’s first wave, and that the approach should take into account lessons learnt from what we can see happening in overseas countries.

“Slow down on the plan to live together with covid.”

“Faateletelegese le fuafuaga lea, o le ola faatasi ma le Koviti.”

According to Tuilaepa, Samoa has not yet experienced the multiple waves of the pandemic, and calls on the Government to proceed with caution.

Tuilaepa then also raised Samoa’s data in terms of the recorded death toll. He said he believed that there are more deaths than the number that is being given.

“It is important to give us the right information about the number of people whose deaths are covid-related.”

“E taua le aumai sa’o o faamaumauga ma faamatalaga, o tagata ua maliliu i le faamai.”

“The country needs to know the full extent of what we are facing,” added the leader of the opposition.

When samples of Samoa’s positive cases were taken to New Zealand for testing at the beginning of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health said the coronavirus variant spreading in the community was the BA.1 sub lineage of the Omicron variant.

“This sub lineage of the Omicron variant was common in many countries since the beginning of this year, however the most recent BA.2 sub lineage of the Omicron variant appears to have displaced the BA.1 in many countries including New Zealand and Australia”, the Ministry observed at the time.

The BA.2 variant is the dominant one currently sweeping through Samoa’s Pacific neighbors, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, as well as in the United States. Latest reports from Samoa’s Ministry of Health has not made reference to whether BA.2 is now also in the country.

As reported by Samoa Global News earlier this month, the World Health Organization had been closely monitoring a new omicron variant, Omicron XE, first detected in the United Kingdom on January 19, with over 1,300 cases recorded in reports of this week. 

The variant is said to be a “recombination” or a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, meaning the two have merged.