Samoans returning from hospital treatment denied entry

By Soli Wilson 10 February 2020, 10:00PM

Eight Samoans, including five patients returning from a trip to India for hospital treatment, have been refused entry into the country as efforts to prevent the coronavirus reaching Samoan shores intensify. 

The other three Samoan nationals to be refused entry on Sunday night were caregivers of the travelling patients under the Government's medical referral scheme. 

On the way home, the group had flown through Singapore during transit. 

The country is listed as high risk for the coronavirus.

Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, the head of the Ministry of Health, said the incoming passengers may not have been aware that Singapore had been added to a list of "high risk" countries. 

Under new measures, Samoans and non-Samoans alike will be refused entry without a two week period of quarantine in a country and medical certification. 

The list was last updated on Friday evening, at a time when their flight may already have departed, Leausa said. 

Japan, Singapore and Thailand are the most recent countries to be added to the list of countries from which travelers are prevented from arriving without 14 days self-quarantine in a country without the virus first.  

Other countries on the list of six include: Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

In total 19 travellers including the Samoans were denied entry Sunday night. The remainder had arrived either from mainland China or one of the other countries on the high risk advisory. 

“We will continue to monitor the patient’s situation from here," Leausa said

Apollo and Fortis Hospitals in Fiji were contacted to assist the quarantine process at Nadi, a Government spokesman said last night, in a statement that was released in response to questions originally sent by the Samoa Observer. 

The group had received treatment at the hospitals as part of the Government's medical exchange scheme with India. 

Separately a young woman who flew into Apia before the high risk exclusion list was updated and after passing through New Zealand after travelling through Australia, Singapore and India was admitted to the quarantine facility at  Faleolo hospital. 

Her admission brings the number of those under quarantine to five, including two students and Samoan woman with Kenyan husband that flew in earlier this month.

Just last weekend, two Samoan sailors who transited through China last month were released, after getting quarantined upon arrival at the Faleolo hospital over a fortnight ago.

The Government Press Secretariat could not be reached as of press time.

Under new restrictions incoming passengers to Samoa must spend 14 days in a country that is free of cases of the virus and receive medical clearance within three days before arrival. 

A range of countries and their national airlines, including New Zealand, Australia and the United States have banned the arrival of foreign travelers from China. 

Travelers from these states or transiting through must spend at least 14 days in a country that is free of the 2019 novel coronavirus and must undergo medical clearance within three days before arrival in Samoa.

“In the event you arrive within the 14 day period as noted above, you will be returned to the country of last Port before arrival in to Samoa,” the Samoa Government Advisory reads.

All travellers originating from or transiting through certain countries and states are required to undergo medical examination by a registered medical practitioner within three days of arrival.

These countries include, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Cambodia, Belgium, Australia, Germany, U.S.A. (California, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin), Malaysia, Vietnam, France, India, Italy, Russia, Philippines, U.K., Nepal, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Sri Lanka.

A medical clearance is required from travelers at the point of check in prior to the issuing of passenger boarding passes.


By Soli Wilson 10 February 2020, 10:00PM

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