Repatriation flight from Los Angeles postponed

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 November 2020, 4:40PM

The Government has postponed the repatriation flight direct from Los Angeles scheduled for Friday.

The announcement was made by the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Maleilegaoi this afternoon.

Tuilaepa apologised to everyone involved, saying it was a difficult decision to make but it had to be done.

He did not say when the flight has been postponed to.

This is a developing story.


On Tuesday evening, Tuilaepa revealed further tests on Samoa’s possible first COVID-19 case conducted in New Zealand found yet more confusion on the sailor’s condition.

Testing at both the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa and New Zealand’s national Institute of Environmental Science Research found different swab tests on the same sailor returned both positive and negative results. 

Samoa will now be sending blood samples of the sailor to New Zealand for further testing and results are expected on Monday.

Tuilaepa said following this case, and in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases globally, the Cabinet will spend Wednesday deciding whether or not to postpone a flight of 290 people to Apia direct from Los Angeles.

The Prime Minister emphasised that there is a high risk of citizens getting infected with reports of chaos in America, 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,” he said.

He said Cabinet will announce their decision in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the sailor who both tested positive and negative last week has been quarantined with his roommate at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole National Hospital at Moto’otua since last week.

The roommate has been tested several times, most recently on Saturday, and continues to test negative for COVID-19.

The flight from Los Angeles is meant to be carrying 146 sailors working across several container ship and cruise ship companies, missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, scholarship students from China and Europe, medical treatment patients returning from India, and missionaries from the Philippines and Hawai’i.

On arrival they will be in quarantine for three weeks instead of the typical two.

Passengers are still required to have hard-copy evidence of negative COVID-19 test results from within three days of arrival and a medical clearance certificate that details their health vitals, absence of COVID-19 symptoms, and medical history.

According to the L.A. public health department, L.A. has been reporting thousands of new cases of the coronavirus per day. The latest data for Monday 23 November shows 6,124 cases reported, with a seven-day daily positivity rate of 6.4 per cent. The county is testing around 60,000 people per week.

In India too, daily case numbers are high but dropping, with the latest figures showing 800 new cases reported on Monday, down from more than 1000 daily infections over the weekend. 

The country has been especially hard hit by the pandemic with cases ramping up in early May and only last month beginning to fall.

It has recorded over nine million cases this year and around 134,000 people have died.

Hawaii has been recording high numbers of new cases each day too, reaching 103 on Monday 23 November, but these are significantly lower numbers than during August when Hawaii had up to 300 or more new cases a day.

The Philippines recorded 1,108 new cases on Tuesday 24 November and is also showing a gradual drop in new case figures since a peak in August. Manila and six other areas across the country are under lockdown until the end of November.

*Additional reporting from Sapeer Mayron 

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 25 November 2020, 4:40PM

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