Pre-departure screening remains puzzle
The Samoan Government has yet to confirm exactly how citizens hoping to fly home can be guaranteed COVID-19 testing, despite the state of emergency regulations demanding people are tested three days before leaving New Zealand.
The Ministry of Health and Government Press Secretariat has not responded to questions about the testing or quarantine systems, which are a necessary prerequisite for Samoans headed back to the island.
The state of emergency orders demand a traveler to Samoa must have quarantined in place for 14 days, had a negative COVID-19 result three days before departure and be prepared to quarantine in Samoa for 14 days before moving about freely.
But it has not quite outlined to what standard the quarantine should be, who will verify quarantine measures have been followed, and how it will get hopeful travelers tested.
Though Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said Samoa would open borders to both American Samoa and New Zealand, the former has insisted it will keep its own borders closed.
Air New Zealand has scheduled weekly flights to Samoa and each flight is subject to approval from the Samoan Government.
“Air New Zealand is working closely with the Samoan Government on health protocols for any future passenger flights to Samoa, which will be subject to Samoan government approval,” an Air New Zealand spokesperson said in an email today.
Previously, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health approved testing at departure for a repatriation flight to the Cook Islands.
“This was for a specific repatriation flight and the costs were to be covered by the Cook Islands government,” a Ministry of Health spokesperson told the Samoa Observer.
“We understand Samoa and other countries have requirements for COVID-19 testing as an entry requirement.
“We are continuing to work with our Pacific Island colleagues on their responses to COVID-19 and will provide further advice to the Director-General.”
Emailed questions to the Director-General of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri and the Government Press Secretary Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, were not responded to by press time.