Don't visit Samoan workers – Minister

A Cabinet Minister has appealed to Samoans overseas to avoid visiting compatriots currently working abroad in order to reduce the risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.), Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, made the appeal in a message that was posted on the Government’s Facebook page over the weekend.

He acknowledged the contributions that the workers abroad continue to make to their families, villages, churches and the Government and their assistance is appreciated.

“We here at home in Samoa, acknowledge your sacrifices to support your families. Our church leaders, government, families and village communities continue to pray for you all,” he said. “You are in our thoughts during this time. You have left Samoa for the benefit of your families, villages, churches and Government and we thank you for your courage.”

The onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic led to some of the workers worrying about returning home, but Lautafi said their work abroad has ensured their families in Samoa are supported.

“We cannot belittle your efforts and contribution to this important work that supports millions around the world and in our country Samoa as well.”

Giving an update on the Government’s efforts to keep the virus at bay, the Minister said their measures have been effective in ensuring Samoa has to date not had a confirmed case.

“Currently, we have not had one person who has been officially diagnosed or confirmed to have COVID-19. We will continue to pray for God’s protection over Samoa during these trying times. Some challenges we face at the moment relate to your families here who rely on you sending money to support them,” he added.

“We do know that in the countries where you work there may be restrictions as a result of COVID-19 that may impact you physically being able to go and send money home.”

The Minister added that the safety of all its workers overseas and that of others is paramount.

“And not only your safety but the safety of your families here too, in physically going to collect your remittances.

In a direct appeal to Samoans living abroad, he said they should not visit the Samoans currently working in their countries to ensure they are not infected. 

“We respectfully ask for your support in the protection of our workers by following the guidelines around COVID-19 for your countries, and kindly refrain from physically visiting our workers, to ensure they remain healthy and to reduce any risk of possibly spreading COVID-19 to them,” he said.

“It would be devastating for us all and their families here should they receive news of one of their own being infected by this illness. We ask for your support and understanding. Our Labour Sending Unit, M.C.I.L. have informed me of the hard work being done by our partner countries, company affiliates and approved employers in developing suitable resources to ensure that you all understand procedures, warnings and regulations around COVID-19 at this time.”

He also advised the workers that when going out shopping to protect themselves as there are risks in getting infected at these times. 

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