Chamber backs coronavirus preparations

The Samoa Chamber of Commerce is backing the preparations the Government has made to prepare Samoa against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Samoa Observer sought the views of the Chamber and private sector over their collaboration with the National Emergency Operation Centre during the state of emergency and the assistance the private sector had received. 

“We are more interested that our authorities are prepared for these risks and have processes that are robust and be able to eliminate any chance of COVID-19 entering Samoa,” said Chamber President, Jennifer Ula-Fruean. 

“Samoa Chamber of Commerce has a seat on the N.E.O.C. as a representative of the private sector.  In addition to our advisory role, we are a key link to the private sector in terms of channelling communication in a quick and effective means.” 

The Government has reached out to the Chamber for assistance in terms of securing rental vehicles for a since cancelled repatriation flight from Los Angeles.

The flight’s postponement came only after the Chamber sent an email to the business community highlighting that the flight "poses the highest risk" to Samoa, following the revelation that a passenger on an earlier repatriation flight had tested positive to the virus. 

“It is in our interest, to support the committee effectively respond to every situation and such as this specific one that we have been asked of (rental cars), it is not the first time Chamber have facilitated these between NEOC and the private sector,” said Ms. Fruean. 

“It is no secret to all of us, the risk of COVID-19 [is present] around the world especially in countries outside of the Pacific region.  Every flight that comes from these countries is a risk to any country.  

“We are more interested that our authorities are prepared for these risks and have processes that are robust and be able to eliminate any chance of COVID-19 entering Samoa.  

“Samoa will eventually have to re-open our borders, we shall treat every situation vigorously and build up our systems to enable us to protect our people against these types of diseases”. 

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi announced the postponement of the repatriation flight, which had been scheduled to depart last Friday, last week days before its departure. 

But he did not say until what date it had been delayed until. 

Tuilaepa said that with three strong candidates for COVID-19 vaccines, next month may bring new hope for easier repatriations. 

The cancellation came after the Government announced the first instance of a person returning a positive coronavirus test on 19 November.

The Prime Minister on Friday announced that the patient who had tested positive - a sailor - was an example of an “historic” infection of the virus, contracted in August but which had not been disclosed to authorities. 

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