Keeping COVID19 away Samoa’s best form of protection
For something considered a matter of life and death, this nation continues to hold her breath, uncertain whether we actually have a confirmed case of COVID19, a week after a repatriated sailor tested positive for the deadly virus.
But it gets worse. We might not know now if we actually have a case until Monday next week at the earliest. That means the people of this country would have to endure another four days of nerves, anxiety and feeling uneasy about the status of the coronavirus in Samoa.
What’s interesting is that the comedy-like manner with which information is being relayed through the official channels with the use of phrases like the “left side of his nostril was negative while the right side was positive” has turned this into a mini-circus nobody needs.
No wonder people are fed up and are taking their frustrations on social media, running the rumour mill on overdrive. What else can they do? There is a time for everything. There is a time for jokes and there is a time to be serious. We accept that it is in our nature as Samoans to crack a joke about everything and anything, including things we should not be joking about. It’s often passed off as “only in Samoa” moments.
But this is not the time for that. Sadly, if there is a joke, it is the way this one case has been handled and what the delays in getting the final results have exposed about Samoa’s so-called preparedness. Let us be reminded today that for eight long months, this country has been under tension and subjected to some tough laws under the guise of getting the people prepared for the worst-case scenario.
While the State of Emergency orders have been frustrating in a number of ways, the silent submissive population has endured and played their part for the sake of a safer Samoa. We are grateful that in the absence of the official results from Wellington, as far as the record goes, we still don’t have a case.
As a nation, we must continue to stand together, and for everyone to do their part to keep our families, villages, churches and this country protected.
Still, there is that nagging thought about how long it has taken the Government to get a confirmed result. Should we have to wait for this long for the outcome of something that should be given the utmost attention and the highest of priorities? After all these millions of dollars that have been pumped into the national coffers as part of the COVID19 response, as well as all the talk from the top about being prepared, the long wait and the constantly changing messages do not reflect well on the Government.
On Tuesday after delivering his infamous “nostrils” remarks, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said blood samples would now have to be sent to New Zealand for further analysis. We do not profess to be medical experts but we know blood samples cannot be emailed or texted through to New Zealand, they would have to be physically flown over. The next possible flight out of Samoa is on Friday. If the experience from last week, where the swabs flown over on Friday did not arrive in Wellington until three days later, then we are in for another very long wait.
Come to think of it, why did not one person at the Ministry of Health or the National Emergency Operation Centre think about including blood samples from the suspected cases when the specimens were taken to New Zealand last week?
Which raises the question, how urgent is the Government’s urgent? Think about this for a second, if this is the process for one case, can you imagine the worst-case scenario where there is an outbreak of the virus in Samoa? People will be dying while the officials are still scrambling around to get their act together; it would be such a travesty.
It is against this backdrop that you could sense a collective sigh of relief from this nation about the decision announced by Prime Minister Tuilaepa yesterday evening to postpone the repatriation flight from Los Angeles that was scheduled to arrive on Friday. The decision makes a lot of sense given the uncertainty surrounding the test results being awaited. Besides, the risk of having close to 300 people from Los Angeles where COVID19 continues to wreak havoc killing thousands of people is just too great for Samoa to take.
Judging from the response so far, we can safely say we are not ready for it.
Let us remind today that COVID19 is not a joke. We are talking about a matter of life and death. At the time of writing, of 60.10 million cases, 1.41million people have died around the world, with the number multiplying rapidly.
This country cannot afford to be relaxed about this threat. This is an existential threat with consequences on people and their survival. it deserves a lot more urgency in terms of the response. Samoa’s best form of protection is to keep the virus at bay, even if it means completely shutting the borders.
May God keep Samoa safe!