Three Samoan students from Wuhan touch down in Auckland

Three Samoan students who were based in the Chinese city of Wuhan have landed safely in Auckland tonight to begin their 14-day quarantine process before they can fly home.

The students were on the Air New Zealand charter flight, Samoa’s Ambassador to China has revealed. Ambassador Tapusalaia Terry To’omata told this newspaper the three Samoan students were on the Air New Zealand flight which departed Wuhan on Tuesday midnight (local time) for Auckland.

“The Air New Zealand flight left last night just before midnight with our three Samoan students,” he said. 

“There were supposed to be four Samoan students on the Air New Zealand flight but one student pulled out at the last minute, although her name is on the flight manifest. One ex-student, one spouse and one dependent (were also) on board, except three students.”

The three Samoan students who chose to stay back are safe and secured, according to the Samoan diplomat.

“The students are all fine. They are well looked after in their universities by officials. 

"Security and supplies are provided by universities throughout China. We are monitoring the epidemic closely and staying in contact with all the students here,” he said. 

“The three Samoans in Wuhan who declined to leave on the Air New Zealand flight last night maintained that they are safe in their campuses which are closed to outside visitors.”

Tapusalaia said food and security were not issues for students residing on university campuses in China. 

“The only people that are being evacuated are those in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus,” he added. 

The three Samoan students, who flew out of Wuhan on Tuesday night with New Zealand citizens, will be quarantined at a military base at Whangaparaoa outside Auckland and be monitored for 14 days. 

Tapusalaia said the students, following their quarantine and getting clearance from New Zealand authorities, will be considered for repatriation back home by the Samoan Government.

However, they have the option of remaining in Auckland with families to await advice on their schools. 

“They can decide to stay in New Zealand with families after the 14 day quarantine and await further advice from their schools,” he added. 

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