COVID19 testing requirement effective from Thursday not Sunday
Travellers entering Samoa from any of 33 countries with widespread transmission of the new coronavirus will need to prove they are COVID-19 negative as of Thursday 19 March, not Sunday as previously announced by the Government of Samoa.
In an update emailed and published on Monday morning, the Government said travellers will need proof of test results conducted within five days of arrival, a requirement which will come into effect on Thursday.
COVID-19 positive test results will not be permitted to land in Samoa, nor travellers awaiting test results. The restrictions are for both visitors and Samoan nationals.
That list of 33 countries now includes Australia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Not every country has an abundance of test kits for the coronavirus.
In the United States, bureaucratic and scientific failures significantly delayed testing kits from being developed and distributed quickly, and criteria for testing was set too tightly, only being done on people who had travelled to China or contacted an infected person.
By contrast in South Korea, the government is conducting general testing, for people who have and have not travelled to affected countries to clamp down on the spread. It has tested more than 230,000 people already, compared to just 11,000 in the United States, the Guardian reports.
For travellers from other countries, they are still required to self-quarantine in a country with no widespread transmission and provide customs with a medical certificate clearing them of ill health signed within three days of arrival in Samoa, from their final stop before Samoa.
For now that includes New Zealand. But local measures announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on the weekend mean anyone who has been overseas is barred from travelling to the Pacific Islands for two weeks.
Travellers have been and will be returned to their last port should they arrive in Samoa and not met the quarantine and medical clearance requirements.
Chartered flights and cruise ships will not be granted entry until further notice, the advisory continues, and all aircraft and sea vessel rubbish is not to be left in Samoa. Airline and sea vessel crew are required to renew their medical reports after 14 days of their last medical check.
The Government strongly recommends everyone postpone their travel if possible, especially to the growing number of countries severely affected by the virus.
There remains a restriction on the number of commercial flights entering Samoa. Air New Zealand and Samoa Airways are permitted just five flights a week between New Zealand and Samoa, of 830 passengers total per week.
There are three flights per week between Australia and Samoa for Samoa Airways and Virgin Australia, and three flights per week between Fiji and Samoa including the flight to Hawaii.
Talofa Airways and Samoa Airways are permitted to fly four flights per day between American Samoa and Samoa.
The 33 countries from which proof of health must be declared:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- Czech Republic
- United States of America
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom