Samoa Airways rejects measles rumours

Samoa Airways has sought to quash rumours that it is imposing a travel ban on unvaccinated passengers.

According to a press release issued by the airline, rumours have circulated that passengers on Samoa Airways have been “turned away at check-in for failure to produce proof of measles immunisation.”

Chief Executive Officer, Seiuli Alvin Tuala, said the rumour is false, and that no one is being stopped from flying with them.

“I am not sure about the other airlines but this is not from Samoa Airways,” Seiuli said through the press statement.

“We are very concerned about the measles outbreak but we are not stopping people from flying on our aircraft.”

The Samoa Tourism Authority last week advised all travellers to ensure they are vaccinated at least two weeks before travel. 

Seiuli said the airline is doing its part by “taking extra appropriate control measures to help minimise the spread of the disease.

“Our staff remains vigilant especially during this time. 

“They are well trained in first aid procedures and any instance where they suspect passenger/s may be suffering from measles – they will notify the appropriate health officials on arrival in Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.”

In American Samoa, passengers by air and sea are being screened in person before they disembark by health and customs officials.

On Friday American Samoa's Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua, confirmed there had been no change to passenger requirements. 

“We are protecting our ports, our airports and our borders extremely seriously,” Motusa said. 

“There's going to be a [huge] flow of people from Apia [to here] because of early school holidays.” 

But Motusa, while urging the Government of Samoa to improve the quarantining of infected patients, said their government was at this stage still relying on screening incoming arrivals by looking for outward symptoms of infection.

Measles is a highly contagious virus and currently Samoa is amidst an epidemic, with 513 suspected cases and 48 confirmed ones, as of the 4th of November.

Preschools are closed, and primary schools will shut two weeks early this Friday the 15th while secondary schools are expected to close on the 29th following exams.

Graduations, including at university level, have been postponed to minimise large groups gathering. 

“The current epidemic should motivate the public to heed the message and advice of health officials by following through with their recommendations which are there to protect all of us,” Seiuli said. 

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