Olo and Faumuina criticise coronavirus messaging

Former M.P.s Olo Fiti Vaai and Faumuina Wayne Fong have criticised the Prime Minister's call to not panic after news of a positive coronavirus test.

Olo, a former independent M.P. who recently had his seat in Parliament vacated rejected the Prime Minister’s message, saying: "we have heard this before."

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, on Thursday morning while revealing news of the positive test to the public made an appeal for the public not to panic. 

“Let us continue to remain calm and not to lose our faith,” Tuilaepa said. 

Olo said the Prime Minister should not have said such a thing as the leader of the nation.

"We worry because we have heard it all before?," said Olo during their weekly programme with the EFKS TV2.

The pair, whose seats were vacated from Parliament after falling foul of anti party-switching laws said the statements were reminiscent of last year’s measles crisis.  

"Last year we heard them say, 'do not worry', and what happened? Many children's lives were lost,” Olo said. 

The Prime Minister should have instead warned people to remain on alert, said the former independent M.P. and current candidate for Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.).

"They have put too much emphasis on the processes within, by shutting down the churches, shutting down small businesses, showing that they are the ones with the power, that they hold the power over the [state of emergency] policies, this is all you did," said Olo.

"Meanwhile, we were warning and urging to keep our borders safe; this is what should have been their 100 per cent priority. And now what?”

Faumuina alleged the positive case reflected the complacency of the Government looking after the two ports of entry into the country.

The two former M.P.s urged people to band together as a nation to keep each other safe.

"Whether the last test comes out positive or negative, our country's safety is our collective role," said Faumuina.

The two also critiqued the precision of the tests used by the Ministry of Health on arriving passengers.

The former M.P.s said there seems to be something off with the tests being used to conduct the testing for them to produce a positive test in one instance and a negative in another.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister said that the first positive coronavirus test - a sailor who arrived in Samoa via plane from Auckland last Friday - had subsequently returned a negative confirmatory test. 

"The truth is, we cannot rely on the Government," said Olo.

"Compare this to the cases which were discovered in American Samoa [last week], it did not take them 12 hours to await results of a test. They tested them and got the results not long after, and here we are..." said Olo.

Olo made reference to a ship, the Fesco Askold, which was docked in Samoan waters for 22 hours but which was, the following day, found to have been carrying three passengers who were infected with coronavirus.

The seafarers were discovered to have had the virus after they were intercepted by American Samoan Department of Health authorities before they docked in Pago.

Despite warning Samoa’s Director-General for the Ministry of Health Leausa Take Dr. Naseri, the Government did not admit to the ship testing positive for nearly a day later. 

"Where are our tens of millions allocated to us to assist in the pandemic?" Olo asked.

“This is the money that should be used to bring in the best and reliable equipment to test these people coming in through the airport and sea vessels.

"This is where the money should go rather than the large gap brought upon us by these [state of emergency] restrictions."

Faumuina added that the Government should have instead used the approximately $11 million used on the stimulus package in $50 National I.D. grants to acquire more accurate testing equipment.

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