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Deal with COVID-19: Afamasaga Toleafoa

The Samoa Farmers Association Chairman, Afamasaga Toleafoa, has urged the Government to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and put other national issues on the backburner.

Speaking in a private capacity, Afamasaga told the Samoa Observer that the coronavirus is an existential threat to the nation, and other national issues such as the L.T.C. Bills and matters relating to the 2021 General Election should not divert the attention of the Government away from dealing with the pandemic.

He said COVID-19 continues to claim thousands of lives globally and Samoa should be in a position to deal with the virus if and when it arrives.

“The threat with the COVID-19 is existential, it affects the survival, look at the numbers dying everyday in the big countries and our small country can’t avoid it without the main thing [which is] to address it properly,” he said.

“So we don’t want to be side-tracked by those quite unnecessary things at this time. I think the priority of the Government that a lot of the resources right now should be on addressing the pandemic.

“I think we should be very grateful that so far it hasn’t arrived in Samoa because although it’s not very clear yet whether we have it or not.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi last Thursday announced in a media conference that a passenger, who flew into the country on a repatriation flight, tested positive and then negative to the virus. His samples were flown to New Zealand last Friday for further tests to determine if his positive result is confirmed. 

However, according to Afamasaga, the fact that the country is yet to know the result of the test in New Zealand doesn’t help.

“We really don’t know with the different results and that’s the scariest part and that’s where the focus of our country [should be] and we don’t have the resources and the tensions so be focused,” he said.

“Now on top of that, we now have the elections coming up and we have the whole country, it’s now the politics of elections so the parties these are the big issues and I sincerely hope that we deal with the first thing first.

“Let’s deal with what needs to be dealt with [first] which is the Covid-19. That’s something we can wish away.”

The L.T.C. Bills should not be rushed and can be looked at after the general election next April, added Afamasaga.

“We don’t need to rush them through. Let’s deal with the elections first and that’s the next thing because it has to be done.”

Afamasaga added that the lawyers and judges have expressed their views on the contentious legislation and its potential impact on the judiciary, but he said now is not the time to address the issue amidst a global pandemic.

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