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Samoa one of 19 countries with no confirmed COVID-19 cases

As the coronavirus death toll reaches 34,000, Samoa remains one of 19 countries with no confirmed cases of the virus around world.

The remaining countries, which are largely from the Pacific, Africa and Central Asia, have all suspended flights, closed their borders and initiated nationwide lockdowns in a bit to keep the virus from spreading. 

While all the countries have a lacking of testing capacity in common, not all are quick to say they have no cases of COVID-19, the new virus which has infected nearly 730,00 people and killed nearly 34,00 people globally since December 2019. 

The number of recovered patients stands at 150,939 as of March 30. 

The Solomon Islands, Samoa, Kiribati, Palau, Tonga Tuvalu and Vanuatu have yet to declare a confirmed cases of the virus, and there are 112 confirmed cases in six Pacific Island states. So far one person has died of the disease, in Guam. 

In Samoa, 22 suspected cases have been tested or are yet to be tested for COVID-19. Majority have been returned negative with four pending and five awaiting transport to New Zealand or Australia to be tested at a reference laboratory with a P.C.R. machine. 

Doctors across the country have urged citizens to act as if cases have been confirmed in the country and to practice good handwashing and stay physically distant from others in a bid to slow the spread. The nation has been in a state of emergency for over a week with public gatherings on hold until the crisis is controlled. 

In Africa, just eight out of 54 countries have not reported cases: Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Comoros, and South Sudan.

Testing capacity across the continent is varied. 

In Botswana, nearly 300 people have been tested, and 90 people so far have been shown negative for COVID-19 with another 169 results pending (as of March 28), the Government of Botswana said. 

The Rwandan newspaper Taarifa reports three people in Burundi are dead after showing COVID-19 symptoms, but notes that the deceased were not tested. A medical team has been deployed to the hospital where they died. 

The independent Cape Verde, an island nation of 540,000 off the coast of Africa has also reported no cases. 

In the Central Asian and Arab nations of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Yemen, Governments are bracing for the imminent arrival of the virus.

Yemen, which has been suffering famine and war for more than five years, may not survive an outbreak. The United Nations and even Pope Francis have been calling for a ceasefire to help it and countries like it stand a chance. 

Neighbouring countries on all sides have reported cases, and the Asian Development Bank has allocated a $100,000 grant from an ongoing health project to help Tajikistan manage an outbreak. 

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, people must:

Where possible, stay home. Limit physical contact, and stand at least two metres away from others (this is called physical or social distancing.

If you feel the symptoms of a cold or flu, isolate yourself to a room and do not share bed sheets, towels, dishes or utensils with your family. Sanitise the bathroom before and after you use it.

Should your symptoms progress to a fever and dry cough, call the Samoa COVID-19 hotlines for a doctor’s advice before going to a clinic or hospital. 

The numbers are: Toll Free number 800 6440, and 21183, 21176, 21173, 22914, 22241 and 24402.

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