M.P.'s virus 'hoax' claim draws P.M.'s anger

The Prime Minister has given a dressing down to an M.P. who claimed COVID 19 is a “hoax” virus and the vaccination being distributed globally as “poison”.

The member for Palauli West, Afoa Faleulu Mauli opined Tuesday on the coronavirus which to date, has killed than two million people and infected more than 100 million before he was quickly shut down by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi.

The Prime Minister took the floor and urged the M.P. to steer clear from commenting on COVID-19. 

“The [National Emergency Operation Center] Committee has already announced the update of the vaccine for the country. There shouldn’t be any jokes made towards the said matter,” said the Prime Minister. 

The Speaker also encouraged Afoa to move away from the topic. 

Afoa pressed on, insisting on making his points. 

“I understand the Government already made plans, but there are other vital issues that should be addressed,” said the M.P.

Speaker Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa’afisi immediately stopped Afoa and told him not to make any public comment about this matter. 

Afoa relented but insisted that the coronavirus was an important issue to him. 

The M.P. then shuffled through his notes and said the biggest part of his speech has to do with the novel coronavirus. 

Afoa had previously spoken about the coronavirus in June 2020, where he downplayed the impact of the virus and its casualty rate. 

At the time, the M.P. described the coronavirus as being the “cousin” of the Spanish flu, with a much higher casualty rate. 

He claimed people should not be afraid of the virus, saying it’s no different from the common flu that causes a person to cough. 

But the Minister of Women, Community and Social Development, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, took the floor for clarification. 

Tuitama said the coronavirus is new and antibodies would not be able to fight it. He said that because there is no vaccine [at the time] for coronavirus, it is dangerous and life-threatening.

But Afoa insisted that he will visit the Prime Minister to talk to him about the remedies for the coronavirus. 

On that same day, Afoa criticised Tuilaepa for wearing a facemask which he believed caused the Prime Minister to be stressed and angry at times. 

The claims led to the M.P. being immediately rebuked in Parliament for making light of the coronavirus. 

But Afoa criticised those who encouraged the Prime Minister to mask up, saying he had been "conned" into doing it. 

“The mask is causing your stress," Afoa said, "because there is not enough oxygen going inside you and that makes you [stressed] and angry."

“That is the reason why the Prime Minister was angry at our sister [former] Deputy Prime Minister because of his mask. But had he removed the mask, nothing would’ve happened. 

Minister of Health, Faimalotoa Kika Stowers reminded Afoa that Government had spent a lot of money on its response to the coronavirus pandemic with the activation of the National Emergency Operation Centre. 

Afoa insisted that the only people that should be using protection masks are surgeons.  

Last year, Afoa insisted that he has the "divine cure" for the deadly coronavirus, which has affected 106 million people worldwide and killed over 2.3 million. 

But he would not reveal what the cure is saying his lawyer is working on sorting out what he described as the "legal process" before it could be made public.

Afoa made the claim when he visited the Samoa Observer to re-emphasise a point he had made during the recent Parliamentary session where he said the vaccine scientists are working on to defeat the virus will not cure the pandemic. 

And if a vaccine is found, he said it is likely to take at least seven years because it needs to be tested on animals and trialed for safety.

As of February 2021, Samoa is currently awaiting its first batch of 5,000 vaccine doses. The doses will inoculate 2,500 people starting with front-line personnel. 

Samoa's first COVID-19 vaccines, to be rolled out to frontline workers, are expected to first arrive in March, according to Government estimates. 

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