Govt. bans U.K., South Africa passengers

The Samoa Government has banned passengers who originate from or transit through the United Kingdom (U.K.) and South Africa from entering the country effective 27 December 2020.

The ban was announced through a Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) document titled “Special Travel Advice and Information for Travellers Entering Samoa” and was dated 24 December 2020.

The document was distributed to the media Sunday 11.55pm (local time) by the media personnel of the National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.).

“All passengers originating from or transiting through the United Kingdom and South Africa starting from 27th November 2020 are prohibited to enter Samoa until further notice,” states the N.E.O.C. document. “All other countries within the European and African regions will be assessed on a case by case basis.”

There were no reasons given for the ban that specifically targets travellers from the U.K. and South Africa.

However, it is understood the discovery of a COVID-19 variant in the U.K., which is reportedly more contagious and was first reported in southern England in September, could be behind the Samoa Government’s decision to swiftly declare the ban. 

It was believed the variant originated from South Africa, though South African scientists are reportedly disputing the claim that their variant is more transmissible. 

According to the BBC the new variant is attracting global attention as it is rapidly replacing other versions of the virus, has mutations that affect part of the virus likely to be important and some of its mutations have already been shown in the lab to increase the ability of the virus to infect cells. 

Cases of the new variant have already been found in Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and France as well as Japan. Japan has reportedly announced that it is banning non-resident foreign nationals from entering the country for a month from Monday, due to fears that the variant could spread.

Due to its emergence in the U.K., America’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) announced last Friday that passengers from the U.K. must test negative for COVID-19 before departure for any U.S. territory.

According to the MOH document, the COVID-19 requirements for travellers from other destinations planning to fly to Samoa remain unchanged. 

These includes the requirements for the completion of the Health Declaration Card in flight; mandatory requirement of a COVID-19 test with a negative result within three days or 72 hours before arrival (only RT-PCR Covid-19 is accepted); all are required to undergo medical examination by a registered medical practitioner within three days or 72 hours before arrival; and all are required to declare any history of COVID-19 infection or COVID-19 positive test in the past 6 months on medical assessment form.

Passengers have been warned that they will be refused boarding if they have a positive COVID-19 test, incomplete or uncertified medical clearance report, and declare history of covid-19 infection in the past 6 months.

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