One hundred seeking repatriation from U.S. to Am. Samoa
Approximately 350 people, among them an estimated 100 Samoan citizens who call American Samoa home, are seeking to return home from the United States.
Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, an Executive Assistant to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Chairman of the COVID-19 task force in American Samoa, confirmed the number of people seeking repatriation.
“No decision has been made on whether a repatriation flight to bring our stranded residents in the States has not been made,’ said Iulogologo from American Samoa on Friday.
“But we are exploring options to facilitate the repatriation of people which will minimise an accidental asymptomatic carrier bringing the coronavirus home. This objective must be clearly met before we do engage in conducting a repatriation flight.”
The Governor has set up two groups to explore and develop different scenarios, the taskforce chairman added, one looking after health and the other logistics.
“The health group is composed of health experts, physicians, and health professionals who will be exploring protocols which must be implemented in Hawai’i as well as in American Samoa that will give us sufficient confidence that an accidental transmission will not occur,” Iulogologo said.
“Further, we must make sure that we have sufficient quarantine facilities on the island to quarantine approximately 350 residents who have expressed desire to return home.”
The logistical group is composed of first responders.
“[The group] will look at our current infrastructure whether it has the capacity to handle this number of returning residents,” said Iulogogo.
“The strategies prepared by these two groups will be vetted by the COVID-19 taskforce before it goes to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for a final decision.”
Repatriation flights between the two Samoas have ceased.
“The last fights were dedicated to bringing over technical, professionals, and skilled workers to help meet the skills shortages experienced by the construction industry given the large number of construction projects that are on-going,” said the task force chairman.
“American Samoa's borders will resume its closure status but emergencies requiring special flights between the two Samoas will be discussed by the Governor and [the Samoa] Prime Minister.”
Borders in American Samoa remain closed and Hawaiian Airlines has suspended Honolulu-Pago Pago flights at the request of Governor Lolo.