One hundred passengers in quarantine surprise
More than 100 passengers arriving on an Air New Zealand flight on Tuesday were surprised to learn hey will spend the next 14 days in quarantine following tough new coronavirus measures passed on Tuesday.
The group, whose arrival coincided with the passage by the Cabinet on Tuesday morning of new state of emergency measures closing Samoa’s borders from Wednesday and quarantining arrivals in the meantime, are under supervised lockdown St. Therese Samoa Retreat and Accommodation.
One quarantined passenger told the Samoa Observer that authorities had told the incoming planeload that the decision to quarantine the group had come only an hour before their arrival shortly before 2pm on Tuesday.
Soraya May said that a lack of advance warning was her main concern.
“I think that it is a great idea that the Government is taking extreme measures to protect the general public,” she said.
A video posted online of the travelers' quarantine quarters showed rows of beds in a communal living arrangement style.
However, she wished passengers would have been given a few choices.
“I wish that they would inform people before getting on the plane that they will be in quarantine upon arrival or we can self-isolate at home with Police monitoring.
“All I had in mind was that I would see my family again but now I have to stay in isolation.
“I wish they would have told me that I would be put into quarantine for 14 days that way I would have stayed back.
“Another reason why I had to come back was to celebrate my son’s 16th birthday Friday this week.”
Mrs. May said obtaining a medical clearance with everything closing in New Zealand had also proven difficult.
Upon arrival at the airport, she was told to go a different way than usual.
“At that moment I thought that maybe there was something we had to do first before leaving,” she said.
“A person told to get on a bus, saying: ‘Everyone has to get on the bus that is the rule, didn’t they tell you, you’re leaving; going up to the hospital.’
“The sad thing is that there was no water for four hours and I am not very good with speaking Samoan.
“They took us up at the Faleolo Hospital and after an hour we were moved again to a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Mulifanua.
“I was very stressed and concerned because I did not know these people I was travelling and people were coughing in the van. I was wondering if someone had the virus and now I am going to get it.
Ms. May said she was moved to tears because she did not know what was happening.
“I started crying because I did not know what to do for 14 days and there are a lot of people sharing rooms and what happens if we all get sick,” she said.
Another concerned mother, who declined to be named, has a son who was one of people being quarantined.
“My son was in Fiji for work-related reasons and it took him nearly a week to find a flight back to Samoa,” she said.
“What really upset me is the fact that no one said anything to the passengers,” she said.
“I would have preferred if they put them back on the flight back to New Zealand.
“The concern is that they are all put together and that if one person is sick then everyone will be sick.”
Cabinet has moved to completely close Samoa’s borders from midnight on Wednesday, and will stop people travelling between Upolu and Savaii until further notice.
The decisions were among a range of measures to combat the coronavirus’ potential spread passed by the Cabinet on Tuesday morning.
The final incoming passengers coming to Samoa before the lockdown will be quarantined at the Faleolo Health Centre.
The border closures do not apply to cargo, fishing or fuel ships.