Work with quarantine, repatriation process, Minister urges

The Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers, has appealed to the public to cooperate and work with the changes that the Government has made to its quarantine and repatriation processes.

Faimalotoa said the changes were necessary in order to allow local health workers – who are at the frontline of the COVID-19 global pandemic and oversee the quarantine of passengers brought back through the repatriation flights – time to recuperate and prepare to combat future outbreaks.

Speaking during the Health of the Nation programme early this week, the Minister said the country is currently facing a shortage in medical personnel including doctors, which is why the Government rescheduled the repatriation flights to three-week intervals.

“With the looks of it it’s a bit hard when it comes to the resources’ rehab. As I’ve announced before, the health workers are not enough including the doctors, hence why the Government has moved to allocating one doctor each to each hospital across the country,” she said during the programme.

“Day and night, it’s the same people who are manning the hospital and doing health services like last week. 

“From the moment they [passengers] land and [are taken] out to the different venues [for quarantine], and see to it if everything regarding quarantine is properly taken care of with the intentions to check with them every morning and evenings for reassurance.”

The quarantine locations are also located in different parts of Samoa, which Faimalotoa explained is the rationale behind the Government’s decision to space out the repatriation flights to three-week intervals.

“The venues are scattered across the country, that’s why we should also take into account the lives of our people [doctors], that’s also why the Government has decided to move the repatriation flights to a three week basis so these people could have some break.

“If these people [doctors] are going to contract the virus, who is going to take care of our people if the COVID-19 comes to Samoa?

“They need to [take a] break because they’re exhausted but we’re also trying our best [to save] the lives of our people. These people [health workers] don’t have enough rest.”

The Government’s decision to reschedule the repatriation flights to three-week intervals has drawn criticism from members of the public, with many taking to social media to express their concerns.

Currently, Samoa has about 60 doctors currently working in all Government-run hospitals on both Upolu and Savai’i. 

COVID-19 awareness in rural communities led by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development was also acknowledged by the Minister, who said the information was vital for the public’s safety.

“I bow [and take off] my hat to them for spreading the good news out to the villages and families on things that they need to listen for their safety and so they don’t panic,” she said. “Everything that regards the health of the people, we make it our priority.”

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