Pago coronavirus sailors came via Apia
Three sailors on a vessel which docked in the port of Pago Pago, American Samoa, have tested positive to the coronavirus after arriving via Apia, officials in the American territory have confirmed.
American Samoa's Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua, told the Samoa Observer the ship had arrived from Samoa.
"It left Apia on [the 8th] and arrived here on [the 9th]," he said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
"Before the ship came onshore tests were conducted and three sailors tested positive. No sailors came off the ship at any stage.
"Reconfirmed tests have been positive too.
"The vessel is now being sent out to open waters.
"We have to figure out what to do with this boat.
"We informed Take [Samoan Ministry of Health Director-General Leausa Dr. Take Naseri] about 9.30pm last night".
The ship spent 22 hours in port in Apia, according to the ship-tracking website vesselfinder.com. It is not known if or what cargo was deposited.
According to a local media report yesterday American Samoa Health Ministry epidemiologist, Dr Aifili John Tufa, announced three of 17 crew members of the Fesco Askold tested positive to the virus after arriving in the territory.
The Fesco Askold is a 9900 tonne cargo ship registered under the flag of Cyprus.
The seven Department of Health health workers who went on board to conduct the test; two lab workers who conducted it; and pilots who guided the ship into dock are currently in quarantine, the local outlet, talanei reported.
There were plans to send the ship out into open waters while confirmation of the testing was allowed but local regulations prohibited ships being dispatched after 6pm.
Instead, it would be sent out Tuesday morning Samoan time, the news site reported.
The Ministry of Health and Leausa were contacted for contact this morning but a response has not been received. The Director-General instead spoke to the Samoa Global news and denied the sailors ever stepped ashore in Samoa for the duration of the 22 hours they were docked in port.
He did not specify whether their families and close contacts have been contacted and whether they are being asked to isolate.
The Samoa Observer understands since learning about the cases, Leausa undertook an investigation at Apia Port.
Late on Monday, American Samoa's Director of Health, Motusa Tuileama Nua told Leausa that three sailors had have tested positive to the coronavirus after arriving In Pago Pago via Apia.
Leausa has said Samoa’s border protocols at the port are “very tight. “The area is sealed off and closely monitored by Police, Quarantine, and Health officials and there is no contact with any crew member,” he told Samoa Global News. “Our protocols require that crew members are isolated on the vessel, and no one comes off or makes contact with anyone.
“The crew on board are even required to quarantine in an area of the ship and there is only one crew member who stands on board the vessel from a distance to oversee the offload process.
“The containers are all offloaded by crane onto a secluded area of the wharf, fenced off with only two or three stevedoring crew to operate the cranes.”
Leausa has not responded to repeated questions or phone calls from the Samoa Observer.
He said the vessel’s crew were not tested when they got to Apia, as it is a “risk” to health care workers.
“We do not risk health care workers by going onto vessels to test their crew,” he said.
* Sapeer Mayron contributed reporting to this story.