Samoa ready for coronavirus: P.M.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, says there is no need for Samoa to be alarmed about a new virus strain discovered in China, saying the Ministry of Health has made plans to counter it, should it reach Samoa.

More than 200 people have been infected with the new coronavirus strain, first discovered in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. It has this week spread across Asia to South Korea, Japan and Thailand while health authorities in Australia are also investigating a suspected case. 

But Tuilaepa assured the public in Parliament on Tuesday when concerns were raised about what has been identified as “coronavirus, “which causes a type of pneumonia" and could be passed from person to person.

“Our Ministry of Health has been doing their usual work to protect us from such a virus. I understand this virus affects the respiratory system,” Tuilaepa said.

“The Minister of Health who is responsible for these preparations will speak about this.”

The Prime Minister said he would also address the matter during his weekly media programme.

Tuilaepa was responding to concerns raised by Salega Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, who said Samoa should be on the alert given the number of Chinese coming to Samoa.

“In other countries they are already using their Pandemic Emergency plans. In America for example, doctors are going to airports to screen people coming in from China,” Olo said.

The M.P. added that Samoa should adopt American Samoa’s no-nonsense approach to protect her people.

“Just like American Samoa did when they got wind that measles was in Samoa, their first response was to monitor the port of entries, the wharf and the airport. That’s where they stopped the virus.”

But Tuilaepa downplayed Olo’s concerns.

 “You just found out yesterday [about this virus],” he said. “And yet the Ministry of Health knew about it a long time ago and they have been making contacts and undergoing the usual preparatory works.”

The Prime Minister did not explain what he meant by “usual preparatory works.”

According to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.), the virus has been labeled as the “2019-nCoV” which is “understood to be a new strain of coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.”

“Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people,” W.H.O. explains.

 “Scientists believe an animal source is "the most likely primary source" but that some human-to-human transmission has occurred

“Signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties

“People are being advised to avoid "unprotected" contact with live animals, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.”

As of Monday, at least three people in Wuhan, China, had died from the illness, local health authorities said.

Nearly 200 other people in the city, ranging from 25 to 89 years old, had been infected, with 35 in "severe" condition and nine "critically ill," the authorities said.

 *Additional reporting from Business Insider and BBC 








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