Party calls for travel restrictions over new virus

The Samoa National Democratic Party (S.N.D.P.) has called on the Government to impose restrictions on travellers arriving from countries that have reported cases of coronavirus.

The Party’s President, Vui Seiagfolava Masinamua, said he did not agree with the response in Parliament on Tuesday by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

The Prime Minister said there is no need for Samoa to be alarmed as the Ministry of Health has plans to counter it should a case be detected in the country.

But Vui said the Parliament should have spent time discussing how to get the nation prepared, and security measures should be introduced to prevent the virus reaching Samoa’s shores.

"Samoa must be alert at all times because people are coming in, which means we need to limit the transportation of people from Australia, New Zealand, China or wherever,” he said. 

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"We don't want anybody to leave their country, without a clearance that this individual travelling is clear of the virus or any disease for that matter."

The first line of defense, according to the party leader, is for travellers to Samoa to get their medical checks and clearances done before they entered the country. 

"Because if our prevention measures include checkpoints done upon their arrival, it is already too late. The carrier of the virus might have already dispersed the disease on his way to Samoa, infecting everyone he came with and in the airport. We need to tell New Zealand, Australia, Japan or China that no person intended for Samoa should hop on a plane without a medical clearance. We need to block it before we are infected."

With Samoa sending a number of students to China to undertake scholarships, Vui said they should be quarantined upon their return to Samoa.

"We will have to sympathise with the parents but the fact is we cannot take that risk. China will have to make sure that all these students are clean and clear of any virus before they step on the plane to come to Samoa. Otherwise, they will have to be treated there."

Salega Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, initially raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday and appealed to the authorities to ensure Samoa is alert, due to the large number of Chinese nationals travelling here.

He said Samoa should adopt American Samoa’s no-nonsense approach to protect its borders and people.

“Just like American Samoa did when they got wind that measles was in Samoa, their first response was to monitor the port of entries, the wharf and the airport. That’s where they stopped the virus.”

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