Health official cautious on virus quarantine days

A senior Ministry of Health official says that some incoming passengers might need to exercise caution for 21-days, even after they have undergone the Government’s 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

The Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Tagaloa Dr. Robert Thomsen, said in a TV1 Samoa programme on Saturday that there are a small number of cases in other countries of people showing symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19) within 21-days and not two weeks.

He said this is the reason behind him advising those who have been released after undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine to always wear face masks for one or two weeks after their release. 

“Though the usual process requires 14 days of quarantine, there is still that small percentage that would need 21 days (to develop symptoms of the virus),” he said on radio. 

“Even when you’re roaming around because we can't tell what happens and as I said before, there is still a possibility that small percentages of the virus (with these people) will need 21 days to actually develop symptoms and will later on be tested positive.”

Tagaloa also advised the families of those who have been released from quarantine to implement social distancing, wash their hands properly and wear face masks as per MOH awareness through various media platforms.

He also assured of the convenience and safety of the locally sewn face masks for the public to use.

On Friday, out of those who were in quarantine for 14 days, a total of over 100 people were released to their families from 15 different sectors. 

On the same day, another 100-plus passengers  arrived from New Zealand, and are now in quarantine in the same sectors for another 14 days.

Some passengers who flew in last Friday from New Zealand with symptoms of illness were also returned to New Zealand on the same flight. 

But Tagaloa later assured on radio that they were not diagnosed with COVID-19.

Tagaloa asked the public to be patient with Samoa’s closed borders, following cases from a second wave in other countries as results of early reopened borders.

“For now, we’re safe and though it’s been over two weeks since New Zealand hasn’t reported another confirmed case, they’re still monitoring their country as they move down to level one,“ he added. “But we should also understand that this (New Zealand moving to Level 1) doesn’t mean there are no more cases of the virus. New Zealand is still being cautious of their incoming passengers especially their neighbouring countries.”

Some nations have started to reopen their borders, such Australia, China and other Asian countries. However, Dr. Tagaloa emphasised that that is all the more reason for Samoa not to reopen.

“Especially in Australia. I heard they’ve lifted their borders to transportation between them and New Zealand,” he said. “There were a few countries that were hit by the second wave of the virus because they lifted their borders hence why their fatality rates have increased again.”

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