Samoa monitoring N.Z. virus developments

The National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.) is not taking action yet following news of a new COVID-19 case out of quarantine in New Zealand.

Asked on Monday what the Government’s reaction is to the news, Interim Chair Agafili Shem Leo and Director-General of Health Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said they are “monitoring” the situation.

They also asked whether there had been any community transmission of the virus yet, which so far there has not. 

New Zealand’s Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed the 56-year-old woman who tested positive for COVID-19 caught the virus from someone else on the same floor of the Pullman Hotel, where they were staying in managed isolation.

The woman left managed isolation after testing negative twice but tested positive several days later. She had been documenting her movements after quarantine meticulously which made it easier for the Ministry to undergo contact tracing. 

The Ministry has now revealed 29 locations she visited and when so that people can react accordingly.

So far two of her close contacts – her husband and hairdresser – have tested negative for the virus.

On Monday, Minister for the COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins said her infection is identical to another person who stayed on the same floor as her at the Pullman Hotel, and that they have the South African variant of the coronavirus.

Her infection likely happened between 09 and 13 January, and she is now in isolation again.

 A further 46 people have been kept in quarantine at the Pullman, and others who left the same day the woman did have been advised to self-isolate and be tested. There are 15 people who have been identified as close contacts and have been advised to self-isolate pending their test results. 

All staff working at the Pullman Hotel will also be re-tested.

Dr. Bloomfield said investigations were underway to find out how the woman caught the virus, including whether it was through the ventilation system.

But he and other infectious disease experts agree she did not have an unusually long incubation of the virus.

Meanwhile,  in Samoa future incoming repatriation flights are in quarantine for three weeks as they arrived from high-risk countries, Agafili said.

Each flight will be looked at on a case by case basis but for now, the upcoming repatriation flights will have two-week quarantine periods.

In response to the development in New Zealand, Air New Zealand now mandates that all passengers on international flights must wear masks, Radio New Zealand reports. 

Safety officer David Morgan said several destinations already required masks but this new rule extends to every flight.


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