Suspected COVID-19 sailor results confusing, country awaits

The National Emergency Operations Centre (N.E.O.C.) has confirmed that additional tests on the two sailors suspected to have COVID-19 still cannot confirm whether Samoa has recorded its first coronavirus case.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, the N.E.O.C said after two swabs taken on Saturday, the sailor who first tested positive on Wednesday, and twice negative on Thursday, continues to have confusing results. 

The recently repatriated sailor has now undergone five tests for COVID-19: one positive on Wednesday, two negatives on Thursday, a positive and a negative on Saturday.

After his first positive result, he and his quarantine roommate were transferred to the national hospital isolation ward to undergo subsequent testing and close monitoring.

The second sailor was also tested again on Saturday and has consistently tested negative for the virus. His Saturday tests also came back negative.

Two more tests on the first sailor done on Thursday were negative, leading the Ministry of Health to send their testing material to New Zealand for help.

N.E.O.C. states the results of that testing will likely be returned on Tuesday, with New Zealand authorities confirming their laboratory in Wellington have received the samples. 

Neither sailors have shown any symptoms of the virus, which typically appear between five and fourteen days after infection.

Meanwhile, N.E.O.C. has begun testing frontline health workers and officers who were working at Faleolo International Airport on Friday. It is not known how many people this entails.

“The country is hereby assured that health measures undertaken to manage this suspected case has been clinically done with extra care to ensure that it is contained within the isolation site,” the N.E.O.C. states. 

The 17 stevedoring crew and government officials involved with the Fesco Askold shipping container have all returned negative tests towards the end of their quarantine period and will be released soon, the statement continues.

Two weeks ago, three crew onboard the ship tested positive for COVID-19 while in American Samoa’s waters, and the 17 people who boarded the ship to clear their health checks and unload supplies in Apia underwent quarantine as a precaution.

“The health protection and emergency response since Thursday last week has been undertaken in view of the COVID-19 preparedness and response plan designed for positive case scenarios in Samoa,” the statement continues.

“Health officials who have been conducting swaps on the two men are fully protected with personal protection equipment and have been managed in controlled isolation.

“We again implore the country’s patience to remain calm at this point in time while the Committee continues to carry out all the necessary actions to safeguard Samoa."

The full statement from the N.E.O.C., received at 5pm on Monday.

Update on the COVID 19 potential case in Samoa:

Specimen from the COVID 19 potential case in Samoa which were sent to New Zealand for further confirmation have been received by the New Zealand authorities. This was confirmed by the ESR Laboratory in Wellington early this afternoon. The test results are expected to be released once we received advice from New Zealand tomorrow.

Swaps were repeated on Saturday morning for both of the sailors in isolation at Motootua. The test results for the young sailor who was tested positive on Thursday night and negative on Friday morning, mirrored the same results. His roommate’s test came out negative, echoing his negative test result on Thursday night. To date the young sailors display no signs of the virus (asymptomatic). Their temperature measures are normal; no flu or cough and their appetite is fine.

The health protection and emergency response since Thursday last week has been undertaken in view of the COVID preparedness and response plan designed for positive case scenarios in Samoa. Health officials who have been conducting swaps on the two men are fully protected with personal protection equipment, and have been managed in controlled isolation. Tests for all frontline officers who were at Faleolo airport have begun.

The country is hereby assured that health measures undertaken to manage this suspected case has been clinically done with extra care to ensure that it is contained within the isolation site. We again implore the country’s patience to remain calm at this point in time while the Committee continues to carry out all the necessary actions to safeguard Samoa.

A consolidated release on the test results will be announced once we received advice from New Zealand.

Meanwhile, test results for the local staff who underwent controlled isolation two weeks ago following a container ship – Fesco Askold COVID 19 scare, have all returned negative. The staff will be discharged soon.

May the grace and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ continue to cover our country.

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