P.M. urges public to remain calm
Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has urged the public to remain calm and assured that “there is nothing to worry about" after crew from a vessel that went to Pago Pago via Apia tested positive to the coronavirus.
Speaking on his weekly program on TV3, Tuilaepa said the country has remained COVID-19 free for nine months.
“And not only from those that repatriated from overseas but also the cargo ships. We are following the same protocols that were put in place since March,” he said.
“However it’s apparent the panic followed the cargo vessel [Fesco Asgold’s] visited our shores and headed to American Samoa where it was uncovered that three were tested positive.”
Emphasising that it was not the first time for the vessel to dock at the Matautu wharf, the Prime Minister said the systems and processes remain firm to ensure the risks are minimised.
“As indicated by our health official’s public announcement that there is nothing to worry about, we are safe. Precautionary measures are being implemented by the Government officials out in the open sea, before they are allowed to dock,” he added.
“There is a buoy out in the open waters the ship remains there until they are cleared by our officials who are fully geared in People Protection Equipment. And they are only allowed after a thorough check by our officials. Also the crew does not leave the ship.”
A vaccine for COVID-19 is also undergoing trials, according to the Prime Minister, who said there could be side-effects, which is why the trials are continuing.
“We have all watched [the news] last night and today a [vaccination] has been found and going through trials right now.
"We won’t be able to get it until there is no [side] effect, as you know a vaccination was procured before but the impact led to people to be wheelchair bound.”
Making reference to the Australian government’s recent assurance of supplying a vaccine to Pacific island and Asian nations upon it becoming available, Tuilaepa said there was a meeting with his Australian colleague Scott Morrison on their assistance.
However, a direct flight to Samoa from Los Angeles on 27 November is a concern, added the Prime Minister.
“It is important they get their testing underway. It is useless to want to come to Samoa and you’re not cautious, because if you are reckless it will put everyone at risk,” he said.
“And to our people here, inform your families overseas to be extra careful, and if they know of anyone that is sick and wants to board the plane, they should be stopped for safety purposes.”