Coronavirus screening mandatory for visitors to Samoa

All incoming visitors to Samoa will now be required to provide medical clearance confirming they are free of the virus which is rapidly spreading across the globe.

News of Samoa's new border controls comes as an estimated 40 million people in central China, where the virus was first detected, have been placed in a state of lockdown by local authorities. The virus, which can be spread by touch alone, has spread to an estimated eight countries. 

The Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.) has said the Government of Samoa is not taking any chances in efforts to keep the disease away from its shores.

Visitors from coronavirus affected countries must spend at least 14 days in a country free of the virus and undergo medical clearance before travelling to Samoa, a statement from the S.T.A. reads.

The medical clearance must be undertaken at least three days before travelling to Samoa.

On Friday, the Samoa Observer reported that the Ministry of Health had begun screening passengers arriving at Faleolo Airport for symptoms of virus since Wednesday. 

"The Government has prioritised safety for everyone to avoid any possible spread of the coronavirus or any other virus to Samoa.” said the C.E.O. for the Samoa Tourism Authority, Faamatuainu Lenata’i Suifua. 

"Samoa is still open for business and we strongly advise all travellers to comply with the travel restrictions.

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"Health officials are now working around-the-clock to monitor and screen all [of] its borders at the Faleolo International Airport and the Apia International Wharf."

Last week the Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, says there is no need for Samoa to be alarmed about the virus, saying the Ministry of Health had plans to counter its spread in the event that it reached Samoa.  

In response to questions raised by the Member of Parliament from Salega, Olo Fiti Vaai, Tuilaepa said the Ministry had known about the virus a "long time ago" and been undergoing preparatory work for its arrival. 

The Government has listed a range of measures for people to adhere to in order to minimse the possibility they become infected, including:

- Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections, 

- People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands), 

- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat), 

- Wash hands often with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcoholbased hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, 

- Older travelers and those with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease and should discuss travel to China with their healthcare provider,  

- Self-Quarantine at home to minimize spread of infection.

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