P.M. confirms two people were tested for coronavirus

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has confirmed that two people suspected of presenting coronavirus like symptoms were tested during the weekend; the results came back negative.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa made the comment on TV1 following claims on social media on Saturday that a woman suspected of having the virus also known as C.O.V.I.D.-19 had been isolated at Moto’otua Hospital. 

The Ministry of Health issued a public statement dismissing the claim.

But the Prime Minister said a woman who has a heart condition and a palagi (foreigner) were tested when they presented with symptoms that could have been a product of the coronavirus. 

“Nowadays even when you sneeze or cough, it's suspected to be coronavirus because people are worried and uncertain,” said Tuilaepa said during the Taimi Ma le Palemia TV programme. 

“There was a palagi that was suspected; two people were tested and the results are that these are not symptoms of the disease.”

Tuilaepa said the symptoms of C.O.V.I.D.-19 are being publicised and circulated by the Ministry of Health. 

He urged the public not to panic and said that the Ministry of Health is closely monitoring such cases. 

On Saturday, the Emergency Room at the Moto’otua Hospital was closed off with a sign posted outside saying “Restrict Area for C.O.V.I.D. Patients Only”. 

Security in the area is tight. Members of the public being rerouted by security to avoid them walking through the area.  

A statement by the Ministry of Health issued on Saturday denied the rumours being circulated on social media in relation that a patient had tested positive to the virus. 

“These statements are not supported by any evidence, and all ongoing investigations have found no Coronavirus cases (no suspected and no confirmed),” said the Ministry's statement. 

“The result of these false social media statements is that a family has been wrongly accused of having the virus and have had their privacy violated while under the care of the hospital. 

“The Ministry of Health is disappointed at the stigmatization of this family by the public and will investigate those responsible for these false statements to protect patients.”

The Ministry urged the public to avoid online gossip and seek information from official Government channels for updates and recommended preventative measures. 

Suspected cases previously reported by Tonga, Fiji, Marshall Islands, and Palau have all tested negative for C.O.V.I.D.-19. 

The Ministry of Health says it is continuing quarantine measures at its air and sea ports, preparing all health facilities and advising the public on the situation. 

Preventative measures for C.O.V.I.D.-19, include people washing their hands with soap regularly, not touching their face and avoiding people who have flu-like symptoms. 

Dr. Lamour Hansell from the Ministry of Health's coronavirus taskforce said last week that the country was yet to receive any rapid testing kits for the virus. 

"We are still working very hard to try and secure rapid kit tests... because if we don’t do the testing, we won’t find anything," he said during his presentation to the annual Health Sector Forum.

Fiji earlier this month inaugurated a new facility for testing for the virus. Previously Pacific states had been sending specimen to Melbourne, Australia, New Caledonia or Hawaii for testing. 

It is not known how the most recent tests at the national hospital were conducted. 

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