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American Samoa overwhelmed with sick, elderly returning from Samoa

The Department of Health in American Samoa is overwhelmed the number of residents returning to the territory from Samoa, after a week of repatriation flights.

There are 120 people across two quarantine sites, many of them in need of regular medical care for non-COVID related illness and even four unaccompanied minors.

Talanei reports the passengers were not screened for any health issues before being permitted to board their repatriation flight, despite instructions to conduct health screenings for all passengers 48 hours before the flight.

Anyone with pre-existing conditions was intended to return to American Samoa in the coming weeks, instead of on one of last week’s flights.

The quarantine facility in Sadies by the Sea Hotel has been set aside for those needing medical attention and the elderly.

Also not followed was the requirement to have a valid American Samoa identification card before being allowed to fly. 

Several had expired cards, and a 14 month old child without a card was let in too, prompting an investigation. 

KHJ News reports the child had a Samoan passport, and the woman who brought the child with her on the flight initially said it was hers, but now says the child is going to another family.

According to the American Samoa Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua, several anomalies have been spotted among the returning American Samoans.

The entire process has overwhelmed facilities and repatriation flights were cancelled to slow the arrival of new people and to give the staff more time to cope. 

Repatriation flights are scheduled to end on 30 June. The Samoan Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have been approached on whether all American Samoans still in Samoa have been repatriated or whether there remain more waiting to get home. 

Among people who flew back to Samoa over the last week, the only two passengers who had COVID-19 testing done before leaving American Samoa were scholarship students who are travelling to the United States via Samoa, then New Zealand, Motusa said.

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