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Government considers hand wound "minor," will not allow treatment

The Government of Samoa is standing by its decision to deny hospital care to an injured fisherman, a week after he first asked for treatment for his seriously wounded hand.

On Thursday evening, the Government Press Secretariat stated that it considers the man’s injury to be “minor” and therefore the vessel was and will continue to be denied entry into Samoa.

The fisherman, who seriously injured his hand last week, is an Indonesian citizen working on the Taiwanese fishing vessel Man Fu Tsai No. 88. The Samoa Observer understands his wound has become severely infected, and the vessel is running out of medical supplies. 

His vessel arrived in Apia on March 27; it alerted the Ministry of Health to the man’s grave need for treatment but did not receive permission to berth. The crew instead set sail for American Samoa, where it waited two days before receiving the same answer: no.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries reports it did not receive any notice of an injured crew member when the vessel manifest was submitted on March 24, the Government statement said.

“Health officials have also verified that they were only told by the boat’s agent that a crew member needed treatment for an injured hand sustained for more than a week prior to their expected time of arrival.  And the injury is minor.

“As a result and in the best interest to maintain Samoa’s security and safety from the COVID-19, the vessel was denied entry.”

The Press Secretariat did not explain how the "minor" assessment was made and whether a medical professional was involved in making this assessment.

An official from the Indonesian Embassy in Wellington, which is accredited to Samoa, confirmed the Embassy is aware of the fisherman’s situation and is trying to get him to a hospital.

They said the Embassy has contacted the Samoan High Commission in Wellington in hopes to expedite the process of contacting the Government of Samoa. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports they have not been contacted by either the Embassy of Indonesia or Samoa’s Wellington office.

Depending on where the vessel is at sea, either the Wellington Embassy or the Los Angeles Consular General in charge of the American Samoa territory will be able to help him get medical care.

The Embassy has also contacted his Taiwanese company about the matter, the official said. 

The vessel has been denied entry to Samoa under the current state of emergency (S.O.E.) orders prohibiting fishing and cargo vessel crew from leaving their ships. Until March 24, fishing boats were allowed to come to Apia, but S.O.E. amendments passed two days later prohibit them (not allow them, as previously reported). 

The Man Fu Tsai No. 88’s last port of call was Apia. The vessel landed in Apia on August 01 last year, stayed for 27 days and left again on August 28. It has not berthed anywhere since then. 

A satellite reading published on MarineTraffic.com places the vessel north east of Upolu March 30, but it has been out of reach since then. 

The Indonesian Embassy has been contacted for a comment. 

 Correction: the first article on this matter mistakenly reported the vessel first arriving in Apia on February 27. This should have read March 27. We apologise for any confusion. 

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