American Samoa extends emergency to coronavirus

The American Samoa Government has extended a state of emergency in force across the territory in response to growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus around the world. 

New "drastic" measures adopted by the American Territory's Government this week include the complete suspension of all OK Boards, entry permit waivers, and transit permits for all foreign nationals seeking entry into its borders except Samoan citizens. 

The response of stepped-up containment measures came as the death toll from the virus reached 169 people on Thursday and countries such as Australia and New Zealand began to evacuate their citizens into quarantine zones.  

The American Territory, which is also currently grappling with a measles outbreak, extended its emergency declaration for another 30 days up to February 28. 

To date there are 15 confirmed cases of measles within its borders.  

According to overseas media, nearly 60 million people remain under partial or full lockdown in Chinese cities, including the central province of Wuhan, the global epicentre of the novel virus. 

Am. Samoa's Governor, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, issued an order to continue the Territory's measles containment efforts while expanding the state of emergency declaration to include measures designed to combat the coronavirus. 

Lolo said with the increasing number of confirmed cases of the virus and no known cure, the threat of an outbreak is imminent and necessitates a public health response. 

“The continued and expanded public health emergency declaration includes strict immigration requirements one of the more drastic of which is for all foreign travelers, except for Samoa passport holders, to travel to the territory via Hawaii," a public notice announcing the changes read. 

OK Boards for US nationals will continue to be processed with the added requirement of passport holders needing to verify the countries they have traveled to in the previous 30 days,

In cooperation with travel requirements imposed by Samoa, all travelers to Samoa must receive a health exam three days prior to travel. 

All health exams will take place at Tafuna Health Center.

The amnesty program for visa overstayers will close for registration on February 6, as previously scheduled.  

But the public has been advised that there will be increased immigration enforcement efforts and all those who have not registered for the amnesty program will be subject to all applicable penalties including fines and deportation.

All other emergency policies currently in effect will remain so until further notice or expiration of his extended public health emergency declaration. 

Health authorities have sought to assure the public there are no cases of the virus in the territory despite a couple from the United States remaining in quarantine.

A complete list of restrictions announced by the American Samoa Government is as follows:

  • All foreign travelers, except for Samoa passport holders, seeking an entry permit must enter American Samoa through the Hawaii route.  The traveler must spend 14 days in Hawaii before entering American Samoa.

  • Travelers that have been in a country with Coronavirus must remain in an unaffected country for at least 14 days prior to arrival in American Samoa. Due to heightened risk, entry permits of travelers from affected areas may be denied even if all other requirements have been fulfilled.

  • All entry permit applications will be subject to a 30- day review period.  Approval of permits prior to the completion of the 30 days is not guaranteed and in no circumstances will a permit be approved before 14 days have passed from the time of application.

  • All entry permit applications must also include the following clearances: immunization clearance from the Department of Health, health exam from Ministry of Health for Samoan citizens. LBJ clearance. court clearance, and Homeland Security clearance (for non-Samoan citizens.)

  • All travelers must provide confirmation on the countries they have been in the 30 days prior to entry.  In support of this requirement, permit applications are to include copies of passport pages showing stamps at ports of entry and departure.  The Immigration Office is tasked with verifying this information. Any traveler found to falsify or omit information will be immediately removed from the territory.

  • Samoa citizens must have a health exam administered and approved by the Ministry of Health 14 days prior to entry into American Samoa.

  • All children under 18 years of age must show proof of vaccinations for all required immunizations according to CDC recommendations.

  • An immigration bond of $500 per person will be required for all crewmen of vessels seeking entry into American Samoa.

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