P.M. slams coronavirus rumours

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi has scoffed at reports Samoa has recorded its first COVID-19 case, saying people circulating such rumours are probably “secretly praying” for the pandemic to enter Samoa.

Speaking during his weekly 2AP programme on Thursday afternoon, Tuilaepa criticised those who were spreading the unsubstantiated reports and added that whoever has been saying such things may be secretly praying for the pandemic to reach the nation.

"They even slammed the Prime Minister and the Director General of Health as liars, how rude of them to say such things," he said.

Earlier in the week, the Ministry of Health [M.O.H.] Director-General, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, reassured that Samoa is absolutely coronavirus-free, following "baseless" rumours that someone had died from the virus in the country.

The same message was further emphasised by Tuilaepa, saying such assumptions should not be tolerated.

A Facebook post circulated last weekend suggested a man who died was a seasonal worker who, following quarantine in Poutasi on return from New Zealand, contracted COVID-19 which caused his death and was taken to Leulumoega District Hospital.

The deceased was repatriated on the 17 July 2020 and was released to go home on 31 July 2020. He died last Saturday night.

"I want to make it clear that as of today, there is still no case of COVID-19 in Samoa," Leausa said. 

"No one has been suspected to have been affected with COVID-19 and after our investigations on the deceased, there were no symptoms that the deceased had contracted COVID-19. That is the truth."

Tuilaepa also dismissed reports that the Ministry does not have a plan for the pandemic yet.

"How can the TV and newspapers report that but when you really listen to what the Director General says, they have been planning for a long time," he said.

But speaking earlier in the week during a press conference, Leausa said Samoa will not be preparing for widespread contact tracing mechanisms or lockdown changes anytime soon, but is watching developments in New Zealand closely.

“[The National Emergency Operations Centre] has been meeting since we got this news and we are working hard on it but we don’t want to create unnecessary panic to our people,” he said.

“We are noting the developments in Auckland with a lot of concern.”

A new cluster in New Zealand with as yet no known source has Auckland back in Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country in Level 2, and has led to increasing concerns within the Samoa Government in the past week.

As of Thursday morning, a total of 1654 confirmed and probable cases have been recorded in New Zealand with 101 of them active cases with six in the hospital currently.

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