Samoans evacuated from virus epicentre safely home

While the nation prepared for the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Wasi on Saturday evening, six Samoans who were evacuated from the coronavirus epicentre in Wuhan, China, touched down at Faleolo International Airport much to the delight of their loved ones. 

The group had been quarantined in a New Zealand military base for a fortnight.

The three students, a former student and one spouse and a dependant were cleared of the virus by the New Zealand Health authorities on 19 February 2020 before they were allowed to travel to Samoa.

They arrived at the Faleolo International Airport at 4pm on the Samoa Airways flight OL732 from Auckland, and were met by family members and friends.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (M.F.A.T.), Peseta Noumea Simi, was present at the airport.

None of the six Samoans wanted to comment when approached by the Samoa Observer at the airport.

Prior to their departure for Samoa on Saturday, the group’s team leader, Olivia Khasanova, in a message to this newspaper said they were looking forward to returning home.

She expressed their gratitude to the New Zealand and Samoan Governments for their assistance.

"We have been much more relaxed as the days have passed. The journey has been long and we are relieved we are almost home. We never had any major problems in quarantine,” the team leader said.

"We would like to extend our never ending gratitude to the New Zealand Government for their assistance and to the Samoan Government for their assistance. We would also like to give them thanks for continuing to care for the students who decided to remain in Wuhan.”

Three other Samoan students have opted to remain in Wuhan, according to the Samoan Embassy in Beijing as they maintained that they are safe and secured.

Reports quoting China’s National Health Commission puts the death toll at 2,345 people with 76,288 people infected.

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