Returning Samoans to cover quarantine costs

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Maliegaoi, says the Government has spent more than $2 million on quarantining returning citizens - costs he said individuals would soon have to cover themselves. 

Speaking on his 2AP radio programme, Tuilaepa said that “very soon” passengers will have to pay the full cost of their isolation.

The move follows the introduction of similar schemes in Australia and New Zealand which have required individual incoming passengers to pay up to NZD$3000 to cover their quarantine bills. 

Samoa may also be reviewing its entry requirements for remaining Samoan nationals who are yet to be repatriated as New Zealand goes into lockdown again.

Earlier this week, Auckland City went back into “Level 3” lockdown after four members of a Pasifika family in south Auckland tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The number of new carriers in New Zealand infected, stands at 17 as of Thursday with 13 new infected people, all from South Auckland, added to the national total. 

Tuilaepa said entry requirements may soon be reviewed soon as Auckland is where repatriation flights are being operated from.

Since last week, repatriation flights from Auckland, which had been run on a weekly basis, have now been pushed back to be operated every three weeks.

“This is thought provoking for the Cabinet on whether or not we should tighten our health entry requirements,” said Tuilaepa.

“With the flights being on for every three weeks now, the Cabinet sees that the majority of those who needed to come are here. But those who are left, the Cabinet will comb carefully on who can be on the next flight.”

Repatriation flights have been operating weekly since May until last week. Each flight carried more than 200 passengers each flight, who go into mandatory isolation for the following 14-days.

More than 10 quarantine sites are activated each flight with meals provided three times each day for each passenger.

Until recently, in June, passengers were made to pay for their own dinner while they undergo a mandatory 14-days quarantine after arriving in the country. 

Other passengers have been allowed to undergo the mandatory 14-day period quarantine in their own homes, as approved by the Director-General of Health according to prescribed conditions.

Last weekend, Fijian nationals were able to leave Samoa on a repatriation flight operated by Fiji Airways.

On Friday, the Government released a special travel advisory for incoming travellers from American Samoa.

The advisory includes a requirement for passengers to have been in American Samoa for 28 consecutive days or more prior to their entry to Samoa with no history of travel outside of American Samoa prior to their arrival and possession of a medical report, and complete Health Declaration Card to be presented on arrival. 

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