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Coronavirus travel ban delays Chinese-funded projects

The deadly coronavirus in China has not only claimed over a thousand lives, but will delay the implementation of four major Chinese Government-funded projects in Samoa.

Projects affected include the proposed police academy, three primary schools, the Vaiusu port and the China-Samoa Friendship Park Culture and Arts Centre. 

A Chinese Embassy spokesperson told the Samoa Observer that the implementation of the four major projects earmarked for Samoa will now be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China.

He said the rotation of lecturers for the Confucius Institute at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) has also been put on hold.

“Due to the current coronavirus outbreak, four projects have been delayed. These include the launching of the police academy and three primary schools, since the engineers and construction workers are not able to return to Samoa,” he said.“The rotation of the Chinese medical team and Chinese teachers (Teachers of the Confucius Institute located at the National University of Samoa) has also been put on hold.”

In a bid to assure citizens of China’s long-term commitment to Samoa, the spokesperson said:  “Feasibility study of Vaiusu Port has lagged behind and the progress of the China-Samoa Friendship Park and Culture and Arts Center has been slowed down. But we want to stress that the epidemic is temporary, but cooperation lasts.”

The proposed police academy, according to the spokesperson, is a multi-agency training center that will include a driving track course, sports field, running tracks, accommodation, classrooms, an administrative building, a sports gymnasium and an operational training venue. 

Plans for this project were revealed in Shanghai in 2018 and the project was due to commence end of 2019, only for the coronavirus-connected travel ban to throw the spanner in the works to delay the project. 

China understands the need for countries to take appropriate action to protect the spread of the virus, added the spokesperson.

“But hopes that all countries can assess the epidemic situation in an objective, fair, calm and rational manner, understand and support China’s epidemic control efforts. The measures they take should be in line with the World Health Organisation (guidelines).”

A travel advisory issued by the Samoa Government makes it mandatory for all travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Singapore and Thailand to spend at least 14 days self-quarantine in a country of last port free of the coronavirus, and undergo medical clearance 3 days prior to final route to Samoa.

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