Tautua urges Government to reconsider L.A. flight

The leader of the Tautua Samoa Party, Afualo Luagalau Dr. Salele, has called on the Government to re-direct or cancel a repatriation flight coming from America due to increasing concerns over the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

The appeal was made during a press conference at the party's headquarters on Tuesday.

His comments come after news of a recently repatriated sailor – who was suspected of being infected with the coronavirus and moved into hospital isolation with his roommate and quarantined – after he tested positive and negative for COVID-19 last week.

Afualo said that this suspected case comes after nine months of Samoa being a COVID-19 free country. 

“They need to revisit their strategies and test everyone that comes through our borders,” said Afualo.

With more expected repatriation flights, the party has appealed to the Government to redirect the flight from America to New Zealand.

He said that in a short period of time, an estimated thousand citizens and residents will be arriving in the country.

The party has appealed to Cabinet to revisit this decision due to the high risk of infection.

“I know the flight from America has been in the scheduled for quite some time but as we are all aware the disease [COVID-19] is spreading rapidly and with the second wave occurring in Europe and Asia we need to take precautions.

“With more than 300 passengers coming, that is not a small number. We pray that the Prime Minister and Cabinet will consider redirecting the [L.A.] flight to New Zealand.

“And to discuss with New Zealand whether to quarantine the passengers there for 14 days and then return home after all medical clearance has been approved.”

If not, there is a high risk of the virus coming and they should just cancel the flight altogether, Afualo added.

“We should contact our families overseas to have patience and for Government to provide financial assistance.

“When they arrive in Samoa they can quarantine for a longer period of time with an additional week to ensure the country is safe and well protected.

“The concern from our party is that there are not enough [health] workers if the virus arrives in the country [through a confirmed case of COVID-19].”

When asked about party's appeal to the Government, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi said to leave the matter to the Government but if something happens they should help.

The Prime Minister also made reference to the measles epidemic and claimed that the party was not around to assist.

 "Cabinet will decide tomorrow [Wednesday] the fate for the repatriation flight from America which will bring 290 passengers whether to postpone or to continue.”

He said there is a high risk that the country would be affected with reports of chaos in America from COVID-19 which will lead to Cabinet making a decision on Wednesday.

“I have mentioned this because there could be a decision from Cabinet that might lead to cancelling the flight. 

“But with whatever decision that Cabinet will make, we will also meet and reveal it tomorrow [Wednesday]. 

“Cabinet will not take lightly the flight coming from America and with so many people affected by this virus. We pray that God whisper a decision to Cabinet Ministers on their decisions.”       

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