Classes resume after COVID-19 scare

The two schools and martial arts dojo that closed down over last week’s coronavirus scare have reopened, with a martial arts dojo waiting a whole week as a precaution.

Last Tuesday, news broke that crew on a container ship that passed through Apia had tested positive for the novel coronavirus in American Samoa’s waters. 

It caused two primary schools and one taekwondo dojo to close down while awaiting more information from the Government, which finally came late on Tuesday evening. 

St. Peter’s Chanel Community School and Le Amosa Savavau School both sent children home early for the day and asked parents to wait until further notice as to when classes would resume.

A spokesperson for St. Peter’s Chanel confirmed classes have continued as normal, after staff conducted a deep clean of the school.

Le Amosa classes have also continued, with students attending classes on alternate days to keep the number of children present down.

Four Government officials, 13 stevedoring crew and two ‘planners’ were immediately put into managed quarantine for a two week period and tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday 13 November.

So far none of the crew aboard the Fesco Askold, currently unloading supplies in American Samoa, have shown any symptoms of COVID-19, and all of the contacts who were quarantined in American Samoa have tested negative. 

They include nine Department of Health staff, two Port Administration pilots, and two additional D.O.H. staff who did not follow proper decontamination processes of vehicles used at the dock. 

While initially D.O.H. had wanted the onboard crew only to unload the containers in the wharf, local stevedoring crew are now allowed to help but they will be housed at a Government facility throughout their work, will undergo quarantine and tested before they are released.

The Samoa Observer understands one of the people asked to quarantine was a close contact of a student at St. Peter’s Chanel Community School, which caused the Principal to close early.

Le Amosa Primary School had no close contacts on the container ship but closed as a precaution, and reopened again later that week.

KLAS Taekwondo manager and trainer Kaino Thomsen Fuataga postponed classes until more was known about the situation.

He kept classes postponed for an entire week, resuming on Tuesday 17 November as an extra safety measure. 

The Ministry of Health or the National Emergency Operations Centre has confirmed it did not ask anyone to close schools or programmes in response to the three cases aboard the container ship. 

In a press conference last Wednesday, and again in a press release issued on Tuesday 17 November, the government said: “At this time, the National Emergency Operating Centre (N.E.O.C.) has not issued any guidance regarding the closure of schools and businesses etc.”

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