Flight attendant suspected, Govt. reconsiders deal with Air Malindo

A Samoa Airways flight attendant is Samoa's latest suspected coronavirus patient.

This was confirmed by Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who said the woman is one of the Malaysian Air Malindo crew servicing the national carrier aircraft.

He said she presented a high fever on Sunday night and she has been isolated. 

“It was last night that the woman, a crew member on our national aircraft, presented a high fever,” said Tuliaepa in the latest update on the state of the virus known as COVID-19. 

“She is being isolated and monitored by our doctors and we do hope it’s just a fever. So that is the only remaining case we have [of suspected COVID-19].” 

According to Tuilaepa the woman has been in the country since the closure of borders became effective at midnight last Wednesday. 

The Samoa Observer understands that the flight attendant was staying at one of the major hotels in town together with other airline crew members 

Attempts to seek a comment from the hotel were not successful. 

The Director of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naser, recently confirmed that from the 22 suspected cases of COVID-19, 16 had proven negative while the remainder were in the balance. 

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister had also revealed plans of returning the aircraft and crew of the  Malaysian Air Malindo plane as early as this week.

The Government was forced into a “wet lease” of an Air Malindo plane following the Boeing 737-Max grounding which scotched its planned receipt of another leased plane.

Tuilaepa said discussions are currently being made on plans for another aircraft to service the country.

But he said that for the meantime it was timely to return the aircraft and its crew given the restrictions on air travel being imposed worldover. 

The Government had recently extended its wet lease, which had been due to expire in February, with Malindo Air on the condition that it were able to pull out of the deal if a more suitable aircraft were found. 

In January, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lautafi Selafi Purcell, said that despite the costly wet lease from the company, it is the only option available for the national carrier considering the Boeing grounding.

The Boeing grounding has cost the global airline industry billions of dollars in foregone revenue and came after two fatal crashes involving its Max model, in Indonesia and Africa. 

At the time, the Minister said the national airline was looking for a similar model that is newer at an affordable price. 

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