Australian diplomatic families to be reunited

The Australian High Commission is bringing back staff and family members sent home in the early weeks of Samoa’s lockdown, a spokesperson confirmed on Monday. 

Despite the border between Samoa and Australia remaining firmly closed amid the pandemic, the High Commission is bringing back dependents and a staff member. 

“The health and safety of all countries in the Pacific region is a priority for Australia,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Australian Government official and dependents who are scheduled to return to Samoa on 24 July 2020 will fully comply with the Government of Samoa’s COVID-19 testing and medical clearance requirements before entering Samoa, and will quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

“We look forward to welcoming back our colleague who performs a vital role in ensuring that our development program and other cooperation with Samoa continues to be delivered effectively.”

The Samoa Observer understands the entire party will fly on Friday into Samoa having transited through Auckland from their various cities in Australia. 

The latest Ministry of Health travel advisory states that all arrivals into Samoa must have a medical report and COVID-19 test completed within three days of departure to Samoa, and that the COVID-19 test must be negative.

People with positive tests or symptoms of a cough, fever, sore throat or other flu-like symptoms will not be permitted to fly to Samoa.

Previously, incoming passengers coming from outside of New Zealand were expected to have been in quarantine in New Zealand for a fortnight before travelling to Samoa but this is no longer expected.

It is not clear whether the Australian returnees will be in government-managed quarantine or whether they have been given approval to quarantine at home by the Director-General of Health. 

Australia currently has nearly 3000 active cases of COVID-19, 2,837 of which are in Victoria (as of Sunday morning), where 135 people are in hospital, and 28 are in intensive care.

Elsewhere in the country, there are three people in hospital in New South Wales, one in the Northern territories, one in Queensland and one in Western Australia. There were 18 new cases between Saturday and Sunday in New South Wales. 

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