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Govt.'s crisis management lacking: La'auli

The Government must learn about crisis management from its neighbours in New Zealand and Australia, Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party leader, La'auli Leuatea Schmidt says. 

La'auli made the call after claiming that the Government's response this week to news that a ship carrying three COVID-19 infected sailors had docked in Samoa for more than 22 hours was too slow. 

The Fesco Askold cargo ship left Apia for Pago Pago after docking at Matautu.

Health officials in American Samoa intercepted the ship at sea before it could dock in its wharf and conducted tests showing that three sailors aboard had tested positive for COVID-19.

The American Samoan Government conveyed the news at 9.30 pm on Monday night to the Ministry of Health’s Director-General Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.

The National Emergency Operation Centre on Tuesday evening, nearly one day later, confirmed 17 people involved in clearing cargo from the ship would be put into controlled quarantine.

In the meantime, social media was alive with rumours about whether sailors had infected any Samoan staff and Leausa refused repeated requests for comments from this newspaper via email and phone calls. 

"There is a quote by Edmund Burke in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer, where he said: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," La'auli said quoting the Irish conservative political philosopher. 

"It is in this same context that we the people cannot stay silent if we know that something is not right.

"Two things that I want to highlight, the Government's quarantine response and the Government's response to the Public.

"We sent our men onto a ship that we did not know at the time was infected with COVID19, they were exposed to an environment that was infected, so why weren't the sailors tested? 

"If a person needs to be tested for COVID-19, a sample is taken from them. 

"The most common method of collecting a sample is to swab the back of your nose and then the sample is sent to the laboratory and tested to see if it contains any genes from the [...] virus that causes COVID-19.  

"In other countries, the result is usually available within 24 to 48 hours. 

"If it had not been for American Samoa ringing the alarm bell, we would've not known that the vessel that we had our men on board and docked in our waters in the previous days was COVID19 positive."

La'auli then singled out the Government Press Secretary, Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, accusing him of being "inadequate."

"The Government's response to the Public, is as inadequate as the Government’s Press Secretary Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga question to a reporter: ‘Would the earlier release of information have saved any lives?’,” the F.A.S.T. leader said. 

"The Government Public relations may need to take a note from [New Zealand] and Australia on how they address the country and keep everyone informed of something that could become fatal if we fail on all ends."

The former Speaker of the House suggests that the Government should utilise social media platforms to keep our people informed. 

"Let us do better for the sake of everyone, use the Government social media platform to inform people and update people on where we are at with the isolation numbers, re-run the COVID campaign every day to remind people,” he said. 

"The only thing I see on the Government [Facebook page] is H.R.P.P. (Human Rights Protection Party) propaganda and the daily verbal abuse of F.A.S.T. from the Prime Minister."

An email has been sent to the Govt.'s Press Secretariat, Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga for a response. 

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