Opposition party calls for virus isolation
The Tautua Samoa party has called on the Government to build an isolation unit at the Faleolo District Hospital for travelers suspected of carrying the coronavirus.
The President of the recently returned opposition party, Luagalau Dr. Wood Salele, said the isolation unit will ensure any cases of the virus, which has been steadily spreading from the epicentre of an outbreak in Wuhan in China, is contained and does not spread across the country.
While the Government has assured Samoans they are prepared for the new disease, Luagalau said it is best to be prepared and not be complacent.
Unlike measles which can be prevented by vaccination, no immunisation exists for the coronavirus which has already claimed 17 lives in China with over 500 confirmed cases.
Luagalau said he hopes that the Government is prepared and called upon them to fully equip the Faleolo District Hospital with medical resources to treat any suspected cases.
On Thursday evening, Cabinet called a special meeting to approve initial measures to ensure coronavirus does not infiltrate the country.
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, said they remain committed to keeping the country safe from any infectious disease outbreaks.
“It reaffirms the Cabinet’s resolve that there is no room for complacency when it comes to the security and well being of the country,” said Tuilaepa in a statement.
To that effect Cabinet approved a number of measures for Samoa to protect its border in preparation for any public health challenges.
Among those measures were restrictions on all Government Personnel from travelling to Asia, especially countries such as Japan, Thailand, South Korea, United States of America, Australia and those in Europe, where isolated cases of infection have been identified.
Only essential trips are exempted from the Cabinet-approved exemptions.
Non-essential trips are suspended until further notice from Cabinet.
For Border Security purposes, no visitors will be allowed entry to Samoa unless they satisfy the requirements on a mandatory medical clearance which includes waiting at least three days before travelling to Samoa to confirm that they are free of any infectious diseases.
All travelers from Coronavirus affected countries must spend at least 14 days in a country free of the virus and undergo medical clearance prior to their admittance to Samoa.
The Tautua Samoa party says it has welcomed the initiative taken by Government to activate the task forces.
However, a member of the party's executive, Le Tagaloa Pita questioned if the Government was intending to quarantine passengers who were in affected countries prior to this Wednesday.
He said the infection has been around for almost a month and there is still a chance that travelers that arrived before Wednesday might have had contact with the disease.
He asked if Government would quarantine those travelers for precautionary purposes.
Cabinet has also decreed for the Ministry of Health to immediately start health screening all passengers arriving in Samoa via the Faleolo International Airport and the Matautu Wharf.
Crew members on all incoming container vessels as well as long liners are not exempt from the health screens.
Cabinet has instructed the Airport and Ports Authority to make available any facilities necessary for health officials to quarantine any suspected visitor with Coronavirus symptoms.
Unlike most viruses the Coronavirus can spread from skin-to-skin contact alone. Up to ten Samoan students are studying in the city of Wuhan which has entered into a state of lockdown as Chinese authorities make a bid to contain the spread of the virus.