Samoans returning from United States to quarantine for 21 days

Samoans returning from the United States of America will quarantine for 21 days, the Ministry of Health has announced.

In new special guidelines for the 300 passengers flying in from Los Angeles on Friday, and additional travellers flying via New Zealand in December, the Ministry has set out new rules.

It includes mandating mask wearing during travel and upon arrival. 

“We cannot at this stage rule out any exposure you may have had in the last few days and even exposure during the flight to Samoa,” M.O.H. states in a statement.

Passengers arriving from other countries will quarantine for 14 days but the Government has reserved the right to extend this if necessary.

Samoans returning from COVID-19 free Pacific countries must provide proof that they have been there for the last 28 days before travel.

Passengers are still required to have hard-copy evidence of a negative COVID-19 test results from within three days of arrival and a medical clearance certificate that details their health vitals, absence of COVID-19 symptoms and medical history. 

The National Emergency Operations Centre Interim Chair Agafili Shem Leo has said Samoa will not be cancelling or postponing the Friday 27 November flight directly from Los Angeles.

Among the passengers will be people from across America, students from China and Europe, medical treatment patients returning from India, and missionaries from the Philippines and Hawai’i.

A request has been made to the Government of New Zealand to take in the 300 passengers for a two week quarantine period before they travel to Samoa.

New Zealand’s managed isolation and quarantine system has been coming under fire for having a perceived too many empty beds while separated families and New Zealanders are trying to get home before the holiday season. 

According to the Radio New Zealand, as of Tuesday there were 1067 vacant spaces.

The Ministry of Business, Industry and Employment that manages the system has said the vacancy figures are not accurate reflections of the reality in the facilities.

MBIE said its room capacity is 4,500 - which translates into 6,261 people - but the number of places available for individuals will vary depending on factors such as whether families or groups are isolating together (meaning more rooms are available) and exactly how long a person stays which will vary according to their arrival time (for example, a 1am versus a 11pm arrival).

More individuals means less capacity, it said.

“This means we can be operating close to our room capacity but appear to have to have available space based on people numbers.”

Earlier this month R.N.Z reported the facilities are fully booked until after Christmas, with an increase in bookings for rooms and flights.

New Zealand has moved to a system which requires people to book their managed isolation space before booking their flight to secure a spot.

The country has 32 managed isolation hotels which can fit 6,260 people at any one time.


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