Measles restrictions stops family travel

A family from Samoa desperate to attend a funeral in American Samoa have been denied entry as a result of measles-inflicted restrictions on inter-island travel.

Eighteen members of the Pepe family of Toamua were booked to travel to American Samoa earlier this week for the funeral of family member and former American Samoa Attorney General, Tautai Aviata Fano Faalevao. 

The funeral has been scheduled for Saturday. But family member, Lagi Keresoma, said they were not allowed.

“Our family members in American Samoa said they tried every avenue, even attempted to meet with the Governor but the answer was the same,” she said.

“They will not take any risk and the health of their people was paramount and our family respects that, hence we headed back home after the last flight on Wednesday.”

She said their tickets were purchased before American Samoa declared a state of emergency, which has now prohibited inter-island travel.

 “Our family was scheduled to attend a funeral this weekend and we asked the (American Samoa) Immigration office for a waiver given the circumstances, but our request was denied.

 “And there is nothing we can do about it.”

Ms. Keresoma said there were other families at the Fagali’i Airport who were in the same boat as them.

The restrictions are part of American Samoa’s State of Emergency declaration after nine measles cases were confirmed in the territory.

The travel restriction banning all entries to the territory from Samoa including more than 40 other countries under its entry permit waiver programme.

The Office of the Governor and the Department of Health has enforced the orders to ensure all necessary measures are taken to protect the health and welfare of American Samoa people.

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga stated that entry permits and entry permit waivers for those travelling through Samoa and Tonga are suspended until further notice.

 “Only entry permits and entry permit waivers for medical emergency situations will be approved but must be reviewed by the Governor’s Office for final approval,” reads the declaration.

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